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Category: Life and death

The right KPI

Mr Tuan and Uncle Toan both passed away last week. Mr Tuan died in hospital, his lungs wracked with tuberculosis. He spent his last weeks drifting in and out of lucidity, rarely recognising anyone or anything around him. His funeral was held in his hometown on Thursday. We met Mr Tuan 2 years ago. He was sleeping in an ATM booth here in Hanoi with his 2 children, who were then aged 6 and 8. A son and a daughter, homeless with their father yet safe in his strong arms. Blue…

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Trust Me

Every rescue operation is different to every other, but Trang’s was somehow even more different. In her late teens, Trang was trafficked from Vietnam and sold into a brothel in China. As is very common in these cases, she was deceived by someone posing as a close friend. A young man built a relationship with her, gained her trust, and then betrayed her. After many months in the brothel, where each moment was a brutal fight for survival, she found herself in possession of a mobile telephone, and in the early hours…

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What if?

During the week I visited British International School in Hanoi, and was talking to their Grade 8 class about charity, charities, and the idea that we all have a role to play in caring for our world. It’s always the Question Time that I most enjoy, because there’s nothing so insightful as the question of a child. And this class didn’t let me down. One of the girls asked me something quite profound: What if I hadn’t started Blue Dragon? Where would I be? And what about all the kids we’ve…

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Home to say goodbye

Diep was 17 years old when she was trafficked to China and sold to a brothel. Most of the people Blue Dragon rescues from trafficking have been enslaved for a matter of months. Diep was in China for 14 years. She was sold by someone posing as a friend who offered to help her get a job in Hanoi. Those were the days before mobile phones and the internet were ubiquitous throughout the country, and Diep had no way of contacting her family when she realised she had been deceived.…

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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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Exceptional care

When my phone buzzes late at night, my first impulse is to wonder what’s wrong. Among the various roles that Blue Dragon plays in Vietnam, we are first and foremost a care provider to children with very special needs. It would be a rare week that went by without some emergency popping up, whether it’s one of our kids getting into trouble with the law, or a plea for help from a family whose child has gone missing. A late night call this week was to inform me that one of…

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Past and present

It would be easy for me to think I’ve seen it all. My team here at Blue Dragon has rescued Vietnamese girls from brothels deep inside China. We’ve travelled to the border of Mongolia to find women sold as brides, and brought them home. We’ve met kids on the streets of Hanoi so entangled in pedophile rings, so deeply scarred, that we doubted we could ever get them out – and yet we did. We’ve founds children locked into sweatshops, missing for years, with no more than a gut feeling…

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Ode to Joy, and Sorrow

Mr Triem dropped by the Blue Dragon centre in Hanoi on Friday afternoon with an invitation. A renowned pianist, Mr Triem and his soprano wife Xuan Thanh have retired from public life and spend their days teaching the Hope Choir, a band of blind students who over the years have performed for visiting dignitaries – including Bill Clinton – as well as countless charity events around the city. Triem and Xuan Thanh are an extraordinary couple. As someone with no musical talent whatsoever, I marvel at the magic they conjure…

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In the end

Over the weekend in Lakeland Florida, Angela McGrath passed away in her home. Angie was a friend of the most special kind: someone who cared and loved with a genuine passion. I first met Angie through Facebook. She had come across Blue Dragon after reading John Shors’ novel Dragon House, and started following our work. Even though I had never met her, Angie immediately became a friend – not just a ‘supporter’ or a ‘donor’. Angie’s interest in our work wasn’t something new for her; as a mother of two,…

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