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Thanh had a quiet life. Aged 27, she worked in a Hanoi clothes shop. She had good friends, a decent salary, and every reason to think she would soon be married and starting her own family. Until just over a month ago. One of her friends in the shop came to her secretly with a great idea. Why did they have to work for someone else? Why not put their minds together and open their own shop, using the contacts they had made and the business knowledge they had picked…

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Representation

Sometimes I find it hard to explain what Blue Dragon does. We started out, back in 2003, as a group of friends in Hanoi running English classes for street kids. Soon after we took the classes to a football field, where our long-running soccer team began. (Just last summer we played our 2000th game). Then we opened a shelter; then a drop-in centre. Then we found ourselves in a position to help a child who had been trafficked and sold, and so we started what would be the first of…

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Listen to this

I’ve been on the road for the past couple of weeks, visiting friends of Blue Dragon in Singapore and Perth. I find these trips exhausting while also enriching. There’s a real joy in meeting with people around the world who care about the children of Vietnam and want to be part of our effort to make the world better for them. And there’s even more joy in returning to Vietnam and going back to Dragon House, our HQ and children’s centre. Having been away just for 2 weeks, it seems…

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To save a life

As the Blue Dragon kids grow up, some stay in close contact with us while others drift in and out. Social networks, both online and offline (aka ‘real life’!) keep us informed of what’s happening with the young people we know, even if we don’t always hear from them directly. So when Thien dropped off our radar a few months ago, I suspected something was wrong. Thien is in his 20s now, but first came to Blue Dragon aged 14. He was living in the community with some uncles who…

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Success

Ngan has been with Blue Dragon since she was in primary school. Through our sponsorship program, she received help with her study fees and school gear right through to the end of high school. Being an intelligent and ambitious young woman, Ngan then wanted to enroll in an engineering degree, so a scholarship through Blue Dragon’s Tertiary Students program meant she could keep on studying. Ngan wasn’t due to finish her studies until mid 2017, but she’s done so well that she was able to accelerate through some classes and…

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A purposeful life

Vietnam is on holiday now, and the last week at Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation before the Tet (Lunar New Year) break was a difficult one for staff and kids alike. The sudden death of one of our boys, Tu, shocked us all and we are still grieving the loss of someone we cared for so deeply. At Blue Dragon, we don’t have ‘beneficiaries’ or ‘clients’; we have family, and Tu was a much-loved brother. His loss and the experience of coming together to say goodbye brings in to focus the…

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Believe

Early on Wednesday morning, January 18 2017, Nguyen Tong Tu lost his life in a motorbike accident on the cold dark streets of Hanoi. Tu was 15 years old. His life was scarred by accident, family breakdown, and angst. But here at Blue Dragon, he was known as a wonderful boy with an angelic face that lit up with joy when he was loved. Tu was only with us a short time; he first came to Blue Dragon in May through our Outreach team, who met him on the streets…

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Night of heroes

So I failed to write my blog last week. I had every intention of waking up early on Monday and writing about events of the previous week. Instead I was awoken by a call from a Blue Dragon lawyer some time around 5. The police had arrested a Vietnamese man suspected of abusing underage boys: to our knowledge, this is the first time that such an arrest has been made without our direct involvement. That’s a fantastic development in itself. The man – who has yet to be charged, so…

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Countdown

New Years Eve is party time around the world. Even the edict against fireworks in Vietnam didn’t dampen anybody’s enthusiasm; live music and street parties filled the cities and towns until the midnight countdown began. For 2 young Vietnamese women, another countdown was taking place last night. After a year enslaved in central China, An (aged 16) and Cuc (22) were recently able to contact their families in southern Vietnam. Each had fallen victim to a human trafficking ring which offers desperately poor families the promise of employment, but instead…

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The Gift

My last Australian Christmas was in 2001. Since then, I’ve been in Hanoi for every Christmas Day, including today. I’m not a very traditional type of person, but there is one tradition I’ve kept for the last 15 years: a Christmas meal with the Blue Dragon kids. Although I’mĀ far from my family in Australia, there’s a real joy in spending the day with my Blue Dragon family here in Vietnam. I still vividly remember that first Christmas in Hanoi, when Blue Dragon was so young we didn’t even have a…

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