Thursday was a significant day for Diep and San, two Blue Dragon ‘old boys’.
Diep was one of the first Blue Dragon kids. He left his village in 2002 aged 14 and traveled alone to Hanoi, where he earned money shining shoes on the streets.
Blue Dragon helped Diep return to school and then find a job once he was old enough. After working in a kindergarten and then a restaurant, Diep came back to Blue Dragon as a social worker, and has been with us for the past 15 years.
On Thursday, he worked his final shift.
Diep married last December, and has now made the decision to return to his hometown to work in his wife’s business – an English language school for children.
For all of us at Blue Dragon, this is an incredibly sad departure. Diep is well-loved by everyone, staff and kids alike. It’s almost unimaginable that he would leave.
But it’s also a moment of great joy. Diep is taking a new step in life, starting a family and seeking new adventures. Wonderful days lie ahead.
San’s Thursday was equally significant, but for different reasons. He went to court and was sentenced to more than a year in prison.
San first came to Blue Dragon as a street kid in 2007. He was always a bright and happy young person, willing to take risks and reach new heights.
Earlier this year he was arrested for his involvement in a black market money-lending ring.
There is no question that he was part of this, but he parted ways with the ring more than five years ago. San is married now and runs a legitimate business with his wife, but the long arm of the law caught up with him and for the next year he will be behind bars.
Diep and San are both Blue Dragon ‘old boys’ and both are a part of our extended family, even though they have followed very different paths in life.
In our work – just as in life – we all wish for a bright and rosy outcome. We wish that every new street kid we meet will be another Diep, wanting to give back to the community and be a role model for others.
By far, most of the young people we meet sleeping rough or working on the streets have good hearts. Many go on to raise wonderful families, or get involved in social causes. Some come back to work or volunteer with Blue Dragon.
But even those who get into trouble and find themselves on the wrong side of the law still deserve a chance. They equally deserve and need someone to care for them. Someone to stand up for them. Someone to walk alongside them without judgement.
In fact, it’s the kids who are prone to get into trouble who most need care and attention. For Blue Dragon, finding those kids who are in conflict with their families or have a history of breaking the law is a priority.
Because we want to get in there early. We want a chance at turning a young life around. We want to give kids an opportunity to have a life that’s safe and free. We want to raise young people who care for others.
As teenagers, both Diep and San came to Blue Dragon in need of some help. Now adults, their lives have turned out very differently. Life doesn’t always deliver the fairy tale endings we wish for, but that can’t stop us from trying.
Blue Dragon rescues kids in crisis. Right now we are asking for your help through our annual Rescue Appeal. If you are able, please consider making a one-off donation for this important work.