Vinh and Tien had often dreamt about life beyond their mountain village.
The two boys, aged 15 and 16, grew up together, best friends at school despite being in different classes.
When COVID hit and their families lost their jobs, Vinh and Tien decided it was time to step out into the world. They felt an obligation to help their parents and saw an opportunity to travel far from home for the first time in their lives. It would be an adventure, and they could send money back for their families.
As happens so often, the teens quickly found that reality was very different to their dreams.
Once they arrived in Hanoi, after a long overnight bus ride, there were simply no jobs for them. Businesses were closed and nobody was hiring – and besides, the boys were still so young.
The following days became a nightmare. Vinh and Tien were hungry and homeless. They quickly became the victims of scammers who took their identity documents and left them with nothing.
By the time Blue Dragon’s outreach workers saw them in an abandoned construction site, they were exhausted and distrustful. Everyone who had offered to help them so far had only robbed or tricked them.
It took some time to assure the boys that they would be safe at our emergency shelter, but once they were there everything changed. A good night’s sleep, some healthy meals, and some other kids to play with made a world of difference.
A few days later, the boys were ready to go home. Blue Dragon staff traveled with them up into the northern mountains of Sa Pa to meet their family and community and offer assistance for the boys to stay safely at home.
Not all of Blue Dragon’s stories end so neatly – life, after all, really is a long story. But throughout the years, we’ve helped over 2,000 young people like Vinh and Tien return to their families.
That includes kids we met homeless on the city streets as well as the many victims of human trafficking we’ve rescued from places they were held in slavery.
In this work, it can be hard to define ‘success’, because what each person needs is always unique. The way we help one person might not resemble how we have helped others.
Without a doubt, though, it’s a sure success to reunite a child with their loving family. Taking kids like Vinh and Tien home, meeting with their parents, and seeing how we can help to support them in the future is perhaps the best ending that we can hope for.