Friday, January 20, 2006

Night of Nights

Blue Dragon is reeling from a soft-drink induced hangover this morning following the First Annual Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation Tet Awards!

Blue Dragon is not very big on ceremony and formalities – nor are our kids! – so this was our first such ‘special occasion’ with the Hanoi kids.

The idea behind the Awards Night was to acknowledge the progress and achievements of the 90-or-so boys and girls who we’ve worked closely with over the past year. These are all kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, street children, and kids with disabilities.

We invited some special guests, but kept it low key and intimate. The Ambassadors of New Zealand and England, and their families, attended; along with the Deputy Head of Mission from the Netherlands Embassy, members of the International Women’s Club, a representative of Catholic Relief Services, and reps of our local government counterpart.

The real stars, of course, were the kids. In our planning, we intended this to look like a typical high school awards night. And it worked – although this was the first Awards night any of the kids had ever been to, and were so excited and noisy that our staff and volunteers spent the whole evening settling them down!

It sounds like a cliche, but it’s true – the kids are our biggest critics. And today they’re telling me “It was so fun!” and they’re all eager to look over the photos. So that’s a big thumbs up from the VIPs.

The Blue Dragon music group, The Chicken I Love performed songs, and a couple of the kids really took us by surprise. Some of the quietest and most introverted kids were transformed once they had a microphone in their hand.

The Dragon Drummers did their bit, one of our vols organised some girls to sing in Spanish, and we had some speeches by a couple of our kids.

Everyone received a Tet gift, and most were awarded certificates to recognise their progress in the past year. Our kids have tough lives – they’re in bad circumstances that they didn’t create but can’t escape on their own. But last night was about celebrating the good and affirming the positives.

It's a great thing to see our kids clutching certificates and standing on stage to receive applause. They were really proud - and we were proud of them. What a terrific way to finish the Lunar New Year.

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