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Category: Resilience

Learning and growing

Nguyen is a pretty special teenage boy. He can be an angel at times, and he has a smile that beams with innocence. His mission in life is to bring joy to everyone; he becomes visibly frustrated and worried when people around him are arguing. Nguyen just wants everyone to be happy. And of course, being a teenager, he can also be a handful of trouble. He likes to hang out on the street late at night and has a habit of shouting at people who harass his friends. Just recently…

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The Graduation

Today I found myself at Van Mieu, Hanoi’s renowned Temple of Literature, for a graduation. But I was there merely as a prop. Vietnam has a long history of valuing formal education in the tradition of Confucianism. Van Mieu stands as the country’s oldest university, dating back to 1070. Presumably, student life was quite different back then! I was called on this morning by Tan, one of the Blue Dragon boys whose girlfriend, Luan, has just completed her Grade 12 exams. I don’t know Luan very well, but she was coming…

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Survival mode

Xuan doesn’t know how he came to be in the orphanage. He knows nothing of who his parents are or why they dropped him off at the institution just outside Hanoi. His earliest memories are of being cared for by an elderly orphanage worker in a group home; they were happy days and he always did well at school. A time came that he was adopted by a family; but when the parents split up neither wanted to keep Xuan so he ended up right back where he started. As…

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The cover story

Huong was 19 when we brought her back. From a province in northern Vietnam, she had been trafficked and sold to a brothel in China before her 18th birthday. At the first moment possible, she made a call to her family in Vietnam and within weeks we had located her and helped her escape. When Blue Dragon first gets the survivors of human trafficking back across the border into Vietnam, we have psychologists and social workers to support them through their first days of freedom. Some are ready to give…

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Listen to this

I’ve been on the road for the past couple of weeks, visiting friends of Blue Dragon in Singapore and Perth. I find these trips exhausting while also enriching. There’s a real joy in meeting with people around the world who care about the children of Vietnam and want to be part of our effort to make the world better for them. And there’s even more joy in returning to Vietnam and going back to Dragon House, our HQ and children’s centre. Having been away just for 2 weeks, it seems…

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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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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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Be angry

Every day I meet children and young adults who have been through extraordinary trauma. If they lived in the west, their stories would be front page in the newspapers. There’s one story that always stands out to me as among the worst; and it’s one of the foundational stories behind why Blue Dragon began, back in 2003. Even before Blue Dragon was created, I was volunteering alongside Vietnamese and international friends to help out street kids we were meeting in Hanoi. We had no real plan to form a charity. We…

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Matters of significance

I’m flying back today from Australia to Vietnam. One of our friends in Sydney organized a terrific gala to raise money for Blue Dragon, so I headed over last week and joined in the event on Friday night. It really was a fantastic evening, with some awesome entrepeneurs attending all in the cause of helping kids in crisis. Normally I’d stick around a bit longer and spend more days in Sydney, which is my hometown. But this time, I have to get home to Hanoi for some matters of significance. Tuesday…

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