Tin was 13 when she dropped out of school.
It wasn’t that she disliked school; in fact she loved to study and was a good student. But living up in the mountains, in a remote ethnic community, meant that getting to school was an ordeal. She couldn’t travel to and from every day; it would take at least 2 hours each way, and that was in good weather.
Her only chance to stay in school was to move away from home and live in a shared room near the school. The room was a mud hut without electricity; boys and girls of all ages lived together, with no adults looking after them, and all the kids had to fend for themselves.
Apart from the fact that Tin’s family couldn’t afford to provide her with her own supply of rice, bedding, and school gear, she was too shy to live in a shared dorm like this.
Tin’s story is not unusual. While Vietnam’s cities are booming along, the rural regions of the country are struggling to get ahead. Children who drop out of school, for whatever reason, are easy prey for human traffickers, who promise to provide education and training, but then sell the children into slavery. For kids like Tin, there are few good options.
And so, in partnership with an Australian-Vietnamese food chain, Blue Dragon is looking at creating some choices. We’re working with Roll’d to build a boarding home in Mun Chung, a village in Vietnam’s north-western province of Dien Bien. The home will be on the grounds of a secondary school and, along with renovation to some existing structures on the school grounds, will mean that 150 children have a safe place to stay while they go to school – with supervision from teachers, and with the care and nutrition they need to stay healthy.
It will mean that little Tin can go back to school.
Construction has already begun, and Blue Dragon’s Facebook page will run some stories in the coming weeks and months to report on our progress. The plan is for the boarding home to be ready by the time the new school year begins in September.
I don’t often get excited about bricks and mortar, but I know that this will make a huge difference for the children of Mun Chung. And more kids going to school means less kids vulnerable to human traffickers.
I can’t wait for the grand opening!