Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Not just a building

I’m not the sort of guy who gets excited about bricks and mortar.

Nice new facilities and modern equipment do not mean good services for kids; there are plenty of international NGOs right here in Hanoi that are up with expensive offices and staff cars, and back in the dark ages when it comes to service delivery.

But I have to confess that I am feeling pretty excited today about our new building. Because it’s not just a building – it’s now the center where the 100 or so disadvantaged kids in our programs can come for classes, medical help, activities, and a DVD or two.

Up until now, Blue Dragon’s street children center has been based in the same building as our offices (and my home!) As of today, though, the center is a building all on its own, just a few doors away from our current building, which is still used for offices and a computer classroom.

This gives us loads more space to work with the kids – 4 classrooms instead of 1! And 2 psychology rooms instead of none!

Maybe it’s not the building that I’m excited about, but the opportunity for us to achieve more with the kids.

- THANKS (again!) to those people who have contributed to getting us set up with the equipment… I really don’t like spending money on furniture, but of course there’s certain equipment (such as classroom seats!) that we need in order to provide services to the children. We’re just about there now - we started off needing over $3000 but thanks to donations of money and equipment, we now need only about $700 more. Christine Becksted and Robert from Giving It Back To Kids deserve a very special thank you.

- On another train of thought altogether (isn’t that what blogging is about??) an Australian woman who volunteers full time in Hoian, Nicole Woods, is in Hanoi this week making contacts and enjoying the northern drizzle. I’ll be meeting Nicole on Thursday to work out how Blue Dragon can help the Street Children’s Center that she works at in Central Vietnam. More on this later!

- And finally, some news about the spate of attacks against our kids over the past 2 months. Our local policeman, Mr Thang, reports that the man who was behind three attacks (including robbing a child at knifepoint) has now been caught and will be spending the next couple of years getting his back tattooed. (It’s a Vietnamese prison-culture thing). While I wouldn’t wish prison on anybody, I can’t feel too sorry for people who make a living out of robbing street kids.

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