Undercover at the noodle cart

Homeless with two daughters, Mrs Chi’s worries worsened when gangsters started harrassing her. An unexpected turn of events changed that.

Thanh h​ad a problem.

He’s an experienced social worker. Lovely with the kids. A real gentleman and intelligent with it.

He has worked with Blue Dragon for a couple of years and after taking a break, recently returned to work with us in a new location.

Blue Dragon is expanding, ramping up our work in a push to end human trafficking once and for all. This means growing our presence both in the cities and the villages, going wherever we are needed the most.

In urban settings, young people and families who are impoverished are at significant risk of being exploited. It’s not always called human trafficking by society, but that’s what it is. People are tricked into working with no salaries; lured into dangerous places like brothels and karaoke bars; preyed on for their vulnerability.

Thanh has been working with children and families on the city streets. His mission is simple: Help them find a way back into a home, or school, or dignified employment.

But one day he told me that he has an unexpected problem.

When he approaches young people or families on the street, he’s sometimes mistaken for an undercover policeman.

I would never think that Thanh looks like a policeman; he speaks with a lovely smile and carries himself in a relaxed, casual manner. But people who are homeless can easily become suspicious. It’s hard for them to believe that anybody would help them without it being a trick or demanding something in return.

“One time, as soon as they saw me coming, the children got up and ran in the other direction,” he told me.

Despite this challenge, Thanh continued. And along the way, he’s done some excellent work. He’s helped families to rent rooms so that their kids can go back to school and the parents can return to work. Families around the city have come to know and trust him, and greet him with joy when he appears.

Recently, Thanh shared that he had helped Mrs. Chi to turn her fortunes around.

Mrs. Chi has had a series of troubles, starting with her husband dying of Covid. Soon she was broke and homeless with two children under 5 years old, not seeing any way out of her situation.

Mrs. Chi didn’t want charity. She wanted a job. She wanted to earn her own money and care for her daughters without being constantly worried and without relying on anyone else. But of course, to do that, she needed someone to lend a helping hand to get her started.

So Thanh set her up with a room to rent and a cart that she can wheel around and sell noodles from. Her dream has been to have her own little business so that she can arrange her working hours around her children’s needs and earn enough money to be safe and independent.

Mrs Chi getting the noodle cart ready.

However, she had one more problem.

While going through tough times, she had taken out a loan from a black market loan shark. These gangsters are everywhere. They make it very easy to borrow, but very difficult to ever break free from their grip. Even though she had been repaying their exorbitant interest rates, they continued to harass and threaten her.

So Thanh offered to help out. He got their phone number from Mrs. Chi and rang them to have a chat.

His plan was to ask for time to repay the loan. After all, she was now starting to earn money, so why harass her and make her fearful?

But something rather unexpected happened.

The gangsters mistook Thanh for… a policeman.

They promptly hung up the phone. Disconnected.

And Mrs. Chi hasn’t heard from them since.

Now she’s selling her noodles in peace and rebuilding her life.

Thanh’s challenge turned very much to Mrs. Chi’s advantage.

Thanks for reading the Life Is A Long Story blog. If you want to understand the latest developments in human trafficking in Southeast Asia, join me on March 26 in this Blue Dragon webinar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *