Skip to content

Category: Juvenile crime

Midnight

I’m a terrible dinner guest. Invite me to your house, sit with me around a table, and ask me how my day was. I will tell stories that turn you off your meal. I will talk about the young mother who was tricked into following a trafficker into China, then tortured and raped until she complied with their demand that she “marry” a stranger. I will tell the story of the 2 boys who were living with Blue Dragon but then enticed away to join a criminal gang, which lends…

Dying of regret

Sot’s every word is labored. His breathing is shallow and he coughs each time he pauses. He’s barely 22 years old, and he’s facing the prospect of dying very soon. We sit in a café, and we talk about life. There is still hope for Sot; medication might yet clear up his lungs, which are wracked with tuberculosis, but the future is deeply uncertain. The medicine is subsidized but visits to the hospital are not free. His doctor at the hospital has tried in the past to hold back some…

Coffee

Early on Saturday morning, my phone buzzed to life with a message from Ly. Having been on the road for the past month (hence my severe lack of blog posts!) I spent much of the past week catching up with the team at Blue Dragon as well as the kids at our centre. Ly, however, was not someone I had expected to see. For the past 2 years Ly has been working in Ho Chi Minh City as a barista. He’s 26 years old now, but I have known him…

Untamed goats

Our world is a wonderful, inspiring, horrible disaster. In any one moment, we can see both the best and the worst of humanity. And the past week has given us all plenty to look at. World politics has never been pleasant, and right at the moment it seems particularly nasty. Brexit is the prime example of this. People voted for the UK to break away from the EU largely because they either thought they would get a terrifically well funded health system (a promise that was called a “mistake” the…

Deep impact

When I first met ‘Tan’, he was living wild on the streets of Hanoi. I don’t know if anybody had ever cared for him before; every instinct of his body was about survival. Everyone Tan met was either afraid of him or loathed him – and often both. Even though he was only 12 or 13 years old, his rejection of all social boundaries, all rules, left people shocked. Little kids are supposed to be cute and playful; and when you meet homeless children and offer to help, they should be…

Endless night

Cleaning out my desk at home, I stumbled across an old photo. It was taken 12 years ago by a teenager who had just joined Blue Dragon and was learning photography with a volunteer. The photo is of a little girl aged 3 or 4, living in the Long Bien market of Hanoi with her grandmother. They are squatting in absolute filth beneath a staircase that crosses the dike wall; the entire sum of their possessions is a rotting blanket, a straw mat, and some scrap in plastic bags. I don’t…

A major gift

When it comes to fundraising, charitable organisations talk about ‘major gifts’: the grants and donations that are ‘major’ in terms of their size compared to the charity’s budget. They are ‘major’ because of their impact on what the organisation can do. But another way to look at ‘major gifts’ is from the point of view of the person giving the gift – the donor. A gift of $10,000 might not be a significant sum for a billionaire to donate; but $20 might be a major gift from a retiree or…