Long was alone on the streets of Hanoi, but he wasn’t really a street kid.
He had run away from his home up in the northern provinces after getting into some trouble. It was nothing serious – pretty ordinary for a 13 year old boy who is bored. COVID had closed his school and there was nothing much to do, so Long found his way into some mischief.
When he ran away, he didn’t really plan to leave home. His family love him very much, and although they are not rich they live comfortable lives. It was more of an adventure. He knew he would be in some trouble at home so he thought this would be a good time to go exploring!
Once Long reached Hanoi, though, things turned sour – fast. With the city largely closed for social distancing, he found himself alone and without any money. He realised that he hadn’t really thought it through; he assumed it would be easy to get by. Long survived by eating food out of garbage bins.
He had been in the city for a week when one of the Blue Dragon boys named Son spotted him by a lake. Long was clearly in some difficulty. The look on his face said that Long was hungry, tired, and in need of some help.
Son brought Long back to a Blue Dragon emergency shelter, and straight away things started looking up. Long was thrilled to have plenty to eat, a soft bed to sleep in, and some wonderful people looking after him.
But what Long wanted most was to go home… and he couldn’t.
As soon as Long knew he was safe, he called his parents to let them know where he was. They had been in deep distress, worried about what had happened and searching everywhere. His phone call home was a very emotional moment.
However, there was a problem: COVID. Because of some serious outbreaks in provinces north of Hanoi, it wasn’t possible for Long’s parents to come to the city to pick him up, or for Blue Dragon to take him home.
Long was fine now, but still separated from his family.
And so for the past month Long has been staying in an emergency shelter, studying online and joining in activities with the kids and staff. His week of roaming the streets afraid and alone was followed with four weeks in a shelter making friends and learning new skills – quite a change!
Long even celebrated his 14th birthday at the shelter, enjoying a cake and a party.
Finally, on Thursday, Long’s parents were able to get to the city. They drove to Blue Dragon and were overcome with emotion to be with their son again. Now he’s home, and the various misdeeds that started this whole adventure are forgotten.
Long’s story is not dramatic or shocking; he is incredibly fortunate that he was met by the boy Son and was able to come back to a safe shelter. It could have been much worse.
Once he was home, Long took to Facebook to send a message to Blue Dragon:
I wish you all health and happiness! Thank you so much for taking care of me during this past time. Once again, I thank you, my brothers and sisters!
Long’s story finishes with a happy ending – something we would love to see more of at Blue Dragon!
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation rescues kids in crisis. A donation of any amount to the Blue Dragon Rescue Appeal will protect children like Long.