Monday, February 27, 2006

Tales of the Merlion

It's been a whole week since I last posted, as I've been (and still am!) in sunny Singapore.

The messages I have been getting from Hanoi keep telling me of the awful, rainy weather over there - so it's good to be away for a few days!

But it's Blue Dragon work that brought me here - I was invited to take part in the annual Fringe Festival organised by The Necessary Stage. This year's Festival theme is "Art and Healing", so I spoke about the role of photography and creative arts in our work with street children. There were some other interesting presenters involved in the same forum, including one guy who travelled here from Thailand with a truck load of papier mache dolls made by Burmese sex workers. Interesting...

I've been to Singapore a few times, but on this trip I brought some friends - including a long term volunteer from Blue Dragon, and two young guys who were among the first boys that I met on the streets of Hanoi. They're 18 years old now, and have great jobs, so the purpose of this trip for them has been to give them a taste of life outside Vietnam.

Anyone who has been to Singapore can imagine what it's been like - shopping all day and then some more at night. (To be honest, it's mainly been window shopping, but we loaded up with souvenirs today!)

- I always find it hard being away from the Blue Dragon center - don't know how I would survive without email and SMS. Our lawyer, Van, has been keeping me informed of developments with the runaway boys we met last week. So far two of the five have made contact with their families, and we're working toward some solutions for the other three.

- I must say a big thanks to the hostel I have been staying at here in Singapore, The Betel Box on Joo Chiat Road. The hostel owner agreed to let the four of us from Blue Dragon stay here for FREE in a private room for the whole of our visit. I doubt we could have come if we couldn't find free accommodation. This is a terrific place and I can genuinely recommend it to anyone looking for a backpacker hostel in Singapore. Thanks, guys!

Tonight we're having dinner with Heather Campbell from Sydney - her dad Evan is principal at Tuggerah Public School in Australia and they've helped Blue Dragon out a few times now. I'll be back in Hanoi soon - will post on the weekend with developments from the past week.

1 comment:

Tony said...

Hi Michael,

it was our pleasure to host you and the kids when you are in Singapore. Hope to see you guys again another time!