Blue Dragon has reached the milestone of 1,000 rescues of people from slavery. But the early days of our anti-trafficking work did not have such a promising start…

All of us felt helpless.

Seventeen-year old Chi had been missing for months. Until the day she vanished, she had been a familiar face at Blue Dragon’s Hanoi drop-in centre.

Now she had made contact in a call for help to a friend. But the only new information we had was that she was in China.

For days we talked and speculated. What could be done? Who might be able to help? We reported all we knew to the police, but “somewhere in China” is not enough information to start an international search for a missing person.

At this time, Blue Dragon already had some experience with human trafficking. Since 2005 we had been finding and rescuing children who had been trafficked within Vietnam, from rural to urban areas where they were being put to work. And even in our work with street children, we sometimes had to go in search of kids who had gone missing.

After a few days, we reached a decision. We decided to send a small team to China to check out a town on the border. Someone had advised us that this town was a likely location, as it was known for having illegal brothels with young Vietnamese women. And we knew that Chi must be close to the border, so it was worth a try.

The story of that first rescue has been told in other places: how the staff found Chi within hours; how they helped her and another girl to escape; how they ended up running for their lives from the traffickers but ultimately returning with Chinese police to set free 4 more girls.

These were hardly auspicious beginnings, but from that first cross-border operation Blue Dragon is now routinely bringing girls and women home – and sometimes boys and men – who have been trafficked and sold. Our work evolved quite slowly at first, but in recent years has gathered pace.

These days we are still rescuing people trafficked within Vietnam, as well as people trafficked across the border into China – and sometimes Myanmar as well.

A young woman prepares to cross from China to Vietnam following her rescue from slavery.

This week Blue Dragon announced that we have reached a significant milestone. We’ve now rescued 1,000 people from trafficking. You can see some analysis of this achievement in this article on the website.

Reaching the 1,000 mark doesn’t mean we’re taking a break. Right now, we have 45 more cases that we’re working on. And 16 court cases following from rescues we’ve already completed. So there’s plenty more to do.

Blue Dragon will keep going, we’ll keep rescuing people. In part we can do this because of you – because of the people who donate money, whether it’s a gift to a fundraising appeal or a monthly donation or a sponsorship. It all helps and it’s all invaluable.

It’s also fair to say that we can keep going because of the extraordinary people who work alongside me here at Blue Dragon. There are many unsung heroes in this work, so our anti-trafficking coordinator Luong Le (herself one of our unsung heroes) has taken the time to share some stories of the women and men involved at different levels of Blue Dragon’s rescues and after-care.

Article: “We Came Across Trafficking By Accident And Committed To End It By Choice”

Take a few minutes to read these snippets. These are the stories of people on the front line making our world a safer place from human trafficking.

You will be inspired.

Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation rescues children from crisis.

Being kids

The Blue Dragon kids, along with much of Vietnam and the world, have been through some especially difficult times of late. So this weekend, we took the opportunity to have some fun.

In case you missed it, this weekend was Halloween.

It might seem an unlikely celebration for Vietnam, but in cities and towns across the country, people were dressing up and decorating their homes and their shops with all the familiar ‘spooky’ imagery.

The past month has been a difficult few weeks in a terrible year. The central provinces of Vietnam have been hit by storm after storm, causing floods and landslides and damage to tens of thousands of homes.

And it’s not over yet. One more storm is expected to hit on Wednesday. Reports are calling it “the world’s strongest storm so far this year.

Blue Dragon’s work is always about resolving crisis. This year, coronavirus and the floods have added to the complexity of life for people who are already in crisis, already struggling, already trying to cope with abuse and exploitation.

So when Halloween came onto the horizon, we knew what we had to do.

Throw a party.

In the end, for all the crisis and hardship, kids have to be kids. Fun and play shouldn’t be luxuries for children; they are essentials.

And the Blue Dragon kids know how to have a party. They painted a huge banner, organized a talent competition – “Blue Dragon’s Next Top Zombie” – and spent the whole afternoon dressing up and painting their faces.

We’re all still mourning the loss of My, one of our young women who died in an accident just over a week ago. We’re doing all we can to get aid to flood victims, and help families repair their homes before the next storm hits. And our work of rescuing victims of trafficking and finding homeless children continues.

But for a few glorious hours, the girls and boys at the Blue Dragon centre could put all their woes aside and just be kids, having silly, playful fun.

Sometimes, we all need to do exactly that.

Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation rescues kids in crisis.