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Life is a long story Posts

Family

Boi is a pretty cool dude. He’s wearing his hair long today, but every other time you see him he has a new style. He’s grown quite tall in the past 2 years and walks with a confident, sometimes cocky, stride. He’s no longer the skinny little kid we met 5 years ago, homeless on the streets of Hanoi and so deeply drawn into himself. Back then, Hanoi was a different city and Boi was a different person. He had come to the city to escape an abusive family, and…

Vulnerability

My is back in school now. She’s studying in Grade 11 high up in the mountains of north-west Vietnam, living in a boarding house because the journey from her home to school is too far to travel each day. Seeing her with her classmates, she looks like any senior student and has all the same worries and burdens of any teenage school girl. But My has also been through an experience few of us can fully understand. In February 2017, at age 15, she was trafficked and sold as a…

Ti’s story

A social worker’s wedding on the weekend gave me a great opportunity to spend time with both staff and kids away from Dragon House. The wedding was just outside the city, so we had a lovely drive through rice fields on a sunny Spring afternoon. Along the way I sat with one of our newer family members, a boy named Ti who is about 14 years old. I say “about” because he’s not exactly sure, even though he has grown up with his family. Ti first met Blue Dragon’s Outreach…

500 to 1

If you’ve seen the latest newsletter, then you’ll have heard the news that we’ve just passed another milestone. Blue Dragon has successfully reunited 500 street children with their families. Meeting homeless children and offering care and protection is where Blue Dragon started, even though we are now better known for our rescues of people from slavery. Every city in the world has children who live or work on the streets. Hanoi is no exception. What’s noticeable here is the lack of services for them; every now and then there are…

Street life

Here’s something I’d love to share – a film made by some high school students as part of their final year studies. The students from the United Nations International School created this as an assignment, deciding to create a story looking into the life of street children in Vietnam. It’s a fictional take on the life of one child, and captures the essence of what it’s like to be homeless in Hanoi. Treat yourself to 7 minutes of a very touching film made by some wonderfully talented young people.  …

Finding passion

When Tan was 13, he ran away from his home on a small farm in northern Vietnam. I met him in Hanoi a few weeks later. He had been surviving on the streets with help from some older boys who stole and pimped for a living. Fortunately, Tan hadn’t become entangled in anything too bad by the time Blue Dragon’s outreach workers met him and offered him a place to stay.  Tan was a shy and nervous little boy. I never understood how he had found the courage to leave…

Beyond the day

Today marks the World Day Against Human Trafficking. There’s a designated day for just about everything: mixed in with International Women’s Day and the World Day Against Child Labor are World Donut Day and International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Something about the various ceremonial days doesn’t sit quite right with me. I fear that straight after Earth Hour or the World Day of Social Justice we just slip back into our normal routine. The events and workshops and social media splashes make us feel good, but has anything changed?…

Not everybody makes it

I’m embarrassed to have missed blogging for the last two weeks. I’ve tried to keep a good routine but sometimes life gets out of hand. Mea culpa! One of the joys of blogging is sharing stories of the wonderful children and young people I meet and work with. There are so many happy stories to tell. Even though most stories start with suffering or crisis, most do end with a real hope for the future. But not all. Since we rescued  our very first trafficked child back in 2005, I’ve…

Plus One

Two weeks ago, I told the story of 17 year old Thoan, the Hero of Zero. He’s a wonderful kid who has faced so many challenges in life that eventually he simply gave up. After running away from home, Thoan spent his days playing computer games in one of Hanoi’s countless internet cafes, and his nights selling sex just so he could survive the next day. Even after learning he was infected with HIV, Thoan continued hooking up with men who would abuse him for as little as $1.50 for…

Where it begins

A group of teens gathers every Sunday at Dragon House to spend the day in intense learning. We call them our Junior Social Workers. The girls and boys have signed up to a 10 week basic course in what it means to be a Social Worker. Some may well become Social Workers one day; most will not. Their driving desire is a passion to learn how to care for others. This Sunday I was invited to go along and share my own experiences with the group. I’m not a Social…