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Category: Resilience

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:…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Plans and endings

We all dream of fairytale endings at some point in life. Especially when it comes to working with street kids and people who have been trafficked, we love to think that if we do our part, if we give our time or our money, there’ll eventually be a “happily ever after” – and who wouldn’t want that? Sometimes there is. On my old blog, 2 years ago today, I wrote of such a story: the very first girl and boy who we rescued from trafficking (in separate operations) married. Since…

Downpour

It was raining when I landed back in Vietnam, and the storms have kept sweeping through for the past 10 days. Here in Hanoi, when it rains it either pours down in incredible, flooding bursts; or it drizzles for days and weeks on end. Since I returned, it’s been downpours. Having been away for a few weeks I was excited to be coming home. But the downpours that have followed have been difficult. In the past 10 days, three good friends of Blue Dragon have passed away, each in different countries…

Overcoming

We were in a cafe. There had been some conflict; I had done something to bother one of the local gangs and they demanded a meeting to talk. Minh was there, even though he had nothing to do with this. I don’t know why they brought him, but they may have been trying to demoralise me. Minh was a lovely kid. Quiet, peaceful, intelligent. He had just one fault: he hated himself. Absolutely, totally, despised his own being. I’ve never met anyone with a lower sense of self worth than Minh, who…

Brotherhood

Binh was trafficked when he was just 14. His mother, raising 2 sons alone since the death of their father, thought that Binh was going to learn a trade. Living in extreme poverty, she couldn’t afford to pay school fees for Binh or his little brother Hien. When some traffickers came along, posing as intermediaries for a training program in Ho Chi Minh City, Binh’s mother believed she’d finally had a lucky break. Instead, Binh was sold to a garment factory. He became a slave, working on an industrial sewing machine up to 18 hours a…