The businessman

Huy survived a year as a street kid and turned his life around against the odds. The COVID crisis means he once again fears for his future.

Huy is the sort of young man that any parent would be proud of.

Now in his early 20s, he has his own small business supplying car parts to garages all around Hanoi.

He works 7 days a week, often starting before sunrise and finishing late at night. Building up the business has been slow going; every day he’s out trying to find new customers and source new products. Some nights he skips dinner to save time and money – he’s just so determined to make his business a success.

Huy dreams of having a thriving company and employing young people from Blue Dragon to work alongside him. Because Huy himself was once one of the children we helped through a perilous time.

Huy dearly loves his parents, but became homeless at age 13 to escape the extreme poverty that had crippled his family. Within days of arriving in Hanoi, he was met by a pimp who offered shelter and food, only to abuse him and then sell him to others.

When Blue Dragon met Huy, he was trying to break free from the ring of men who were abusing him. He had found work on building sites and at night he slept in an abandoned field. He was desperate for someone to care for him.

Huy was sleeping rough on the streets of Hanoi when Blue Dragon met him.

With some counselling and care and a safe place to stay, Huy was soon ready to get back to school.

Going into business was always his dream, so as soon as he was old enough and able, he took out a loan from the bank and started up his company.

Then COVID-19 hit. Huy came close to losing everything as businesses closed and overnight he lost all of his customers.

When Vietnam’s lockdown ended, Huy went straight back to work. Day by day he built up his network, meeting his old contacts and slowly the market returned almost to normal.

And now, Vietnam is suddenly back in the midst of a COVID outbreak.

At the start of the week, there had been no community transmission for almost 2 months. By Sunday, about 200 people were believed to be infected.

With the Lunar New Year holiday, Tet, just a couple of weeks away, everyone is worried. For Vietnamese people, Tet is more than just a holiday. It’s a week of family reunions and a time for observing important traditions and customs.

Everyone is hoping that the outbreak can be confined in time for Tet. Schools have been closed in some cities – including Hanoi – and the streets are eerily quiet.

For Huy, the coming days will determine whether his business once again faces disaster, or whether this time will be different.

There’s no person on the planet who hasn’t been impacted by this pandemic, but the poorest and most vulnerable have been hit the hardest. For a young man like Huy, working so hard to make something of his life and wanting to help others along the way, the virus is truly devastating.

Blue Dragon helped Huy through the first lockdown last year. We made sure he had enough to eat and could pay the rent; we even lent him an old motorbike so he could work as a delivery driver while his business was closed.

This time around, whether or not there’s a lockdown, Huy will need help once again. Many of the young people in our care, who are at school or university or are already in jobs, will just need that little extra support to get them through the coming weeks, even if the latest outbreak is contained as we all hope.

If nothing else, the COVID pandemic has taught us how much we rely on each other; how when we work together, we can get through even the darkest days.

More dark days may yet be ahead. If we all stand together, we can face them.

If you want to help young people through this crisis, a donation to Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation will go a long way and be greatly appreciated.

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