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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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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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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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Recovery

Thuong married on Sunday. It was a beautiful wedding; she had long dreamt of this day and her family worked hard to make it perfect. Vietnamese weddings are packed with specific customs and traditions, all intended to ensure the marriage is a success, and Thuong’s family put in an extra effort to ensure nothing would be overlooked. Because Thuong’s wedding was a little special. It was just over a year ago that she made it home, after being trafficked and sold into a forced marriage in China. She was 14 years…

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Somebody should do something

Last week’s blog created some discussion around the issue of personal responsibility: what each of us can (and should) do when we see injustice and suffering. There’s no shortage of either injustice or suffering in our world, and nor is there going to be any time soon. Whether it’s Australia’s treatment of refugees, or the apparent rise in hate crimes against minorities in America, or the ongoing tragedy unfolding before our eyes in Syria, or the fact that the past 5 years are the hottest 5 years ever recorded, the…

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Safe

Last week I wrote about Canh, a teenage boy who has been living in an internet cafe and on the streets of Hanoi for the past year. He has been unable to return home, and wanting to join Blue Dragon but afraid he could not fit in. Instead, he’s been waiting for us to open a new safe house for kids in crisis; and on Friday we finally took the keys to the new building we’ve rented. Blue Dragon staff were there first thing in the morning, scrubbing the house…

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Looking for impact

Thao and Tin’s rescue from a sweatshop in southern Vietnam changed the course of their lives. Thao, a 13 year old girl, and Tin, a 14 year old boy, had been locked into the upstairs of a garment factory for over 4 months by the time we found them. They had left their village in the north-west, close to the border of China, believing that they were on their way to a vocational training opportunity. Neither they nor their families had any idea they were to be used as slave…

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Home time

There’s just a little sadness at the Blue Dragon centre today. For the past 10 weeks, we’ve had the joy of a little girl named Chau toddling through our building. She took her first steps with us; she ate her first solids here in our office. I mentioned Chau on my blog a couple of weeks ago; and today she and her mother have returned to their village to be reunited with their extended family. Chau was 12 months old when her mother, a 19 year old woman named Hien, called us…

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