He was a wild child.
“A real ratbag,” as we say in Australian slang.
His name is Dinh. He’s been coming to Blue Dragon for about 7 years now. And when he’s there – boy, do we know it.
When he first started coming, he would enter like a storm on a quiet spring morning. Dinh knew no rules or boundaries and had never been taught any social ettiquette. He would tear the place up, rattle everyone he came in contact with. All with an innocent smile!
But over time, there was something I started to notice. One thing, and one thing only, would calm him down completely: A hug.
“Bế em,” he would say.
His words literally translate as “Hold me,” but they mean more than that. They’re the words that a child says to a parent.
And when you picked him up, held him against you with his arms around your neck, he would finally fall quiet.
That was all he wanted. To be held. Human contact.
The first time we met Dinh, he was covered in scabies and filth. He was building some kind of shelter for himself in a ditch. He was six years old.
Dinh has a mother, but she’s too deep in her own trauma to care for her child. She’s never shown him the affection that he craves. All children need to be held, to experience a loving touch. Sadly, Dinh has grown up without it.
Now he’s 13 and he’s still tiny for his age. He was at Blue Dragon for his classes today, with his sweet disarming smile and the chaos that he always brings.
“Hold me,” he demanded when he saw me.
In a moment, the chaos is gone and Dinh is at peace.
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation works in Vietnam to protect kids from trafficking and exploitation.