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Chains

(Apologies for the re-post; a WordPress glitch deleted this post from last week). Trinh is 14 years old and has been selling sex for 2 years. He has never told us how it started; I don’t know who first abused him or what the circumstances were. Maybe he was desperate for money and reluctantly went along with a pimp who convinced him it would be easy. Or maybe he was deceived by an older friend who promised him a fun night out and didn’t tell him what was going to happen.…

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Taking the lead

When Thoat first came to Blue Dragon, she was wild. People often assume that the boys must be harder to work with than the girls. In fact, when we meet homeless girls out on the streets of Hanoi, it’s not unusual that their behaviour is far more out of control than the boys who are in similar situations. Girls tend to grow up under stricter parental and family control; when that control is gone, the girls may not know how to manage their own behaviour. By contrast, boys are always…

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A difficult journey

It’s easy to think of working in charity as a glorious and noble mission. Sometimes it is: there are plenty of days I go home beaming, knowing that we’ve achieved something great and changed a life. And sometimes it’s grimy and dangerous and frustrating. There are plenty of days that end with nothing but a question mark about what will come next. This article, written by one of the most meticulous investigative journalists I have come across, was published just last weekend. It explores a case that Blue Dragon faced…

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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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Appealing

It’s that time of year again when Blue Dragon is in need of help. Anyone who follows my blog, or keeps up with the Blue Dragon Facebook page, knows of our work. We rescue kids in crisis. Since the start of 2017 alone, we’ve already rescued 64 victims of human trafficking from brothels, forced marriages, and sweatshops. That’s in addition to the homeless children we’ve reunited with their parents, the classes and shelters we run, and all the court cases we’ve been in to represent the victims of crimes. Altogether…

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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 Rush

Early last week I found myself in a meeting at Blue Dragon where a 17 year old girl, Ha, was being reunited with her family. Ha had been trafficked from Vietnam into China 5 months ago and sold as a bride. She was a Grade 11 student and her family loves her deeply; her parents were overcome with emotion to be back together again. A H’mong family, Ha’s mother was wearing traditional dress and before leaving our centre Ha also changed back into her customary clothing for the first time since she…

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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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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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