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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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Family time

This morning I’m headed to a wedding. Thai was one of the very early Blue Dragon kids; we met him about 12 years ago, when we were just starting out in Hanoi. His family lived in a tiny makeshift house by an open sewer and his brother was in prison. Thai had a pretty rotten start to life, and spent some time in a reform school as a teenager. Despite everything, he’s made a good life for himself. He’s worked as a baker, a barman, and now as a security…

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Sooner

Manh looked like a little man. He’s 14 years old and very small for his age, but my first impression was that he could have been anywhere between 10 and 40. He’d been on the streets of Hanoi for a few months, living in internet cafes and begging for money when he first arrived. It wasn’t long before some pimps had their hooks into him, and soon he was introduced to a much older man who took him to a hotel for sex. By the time I met him, he…

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A change of title

In a staff training session recently, our Communications Manager asked us to think of what our job title really should be, given what we actually do at work. It was a light-hearted but revealing activity. Someone said that his title should be ‘Batman’ as he is a protector of homeless children. Another described herself as a “Bridge,” because she brings young people in trauma back to safety and connects them with their families. When it came to my turn, I said that I consider myself the CPB of Blue Dragon:…

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