Thursday, February 16, 2006

A week is a long time on the streets

Friday is staring me in the face - and I am smiling.

Another huge week at Blue Dragon; there really is never a quiet one. I wouldn't have it any other way, but it sure is nice to have a day to slow down and work at a sane pace.

Lots of great news this week!

- The young guy who has been missing for over 2 weeks, T, is back. Our cleaner ran across him in Long Bien market at 7am on Wednesday and brought him back to the center. What a tremendous relief. A few tears were shed... He's still not talking about what happened or where he's been, but we hope he'll open up soon.

- We have a full time volunteer from Australia! Candice O'Brien started work on Monday; she's sponsored by VIDA which is a new program that's been developed by the Australian Youth Ambassadors organisation. Candice is mainly here to work on developing our admin systems - the less sexy side of caring for street kids. Just 12 months ago, Blue Dragon was me and one staff member in a small building, with a street kid as an assistant. Today we have a staff team of about 10, working with over 400 children. While the 'real' work has taken off like a Vietnamese dog at a thit cho restaurant, our admin systems have been struggling to catch up. Let's hope Candice can work some miracles! (And thanks to the good people at VIDA).

- A 16 year old girl, Tuoi, who we've been working with has also been getting about with a big grin on her face. Until this month, she was working about 14 hours a day for just $10 a month so that she could send the money to her sick mother in the countryside. Tuoi is a bright girl - she's got a great future if only she can get through school - but she's just had too many obstacles in her way. This week we enabled her to bring her mother to Hanoi for medical tests at Bach Mai Hospital. Apart from our staff member getting pickpocketed while he was there (another mobile phone gone!) everything went well and we'll have the results by Friday afternoon. Tuoi's mother has been taking traditional medicine, but she doesn't even know what the cause of her illness is. We're hoping to find out exactly what the problem is, get some treatment happening, and support Tuoi to get back to school full time.

- Hoping not to jinx myself, but there has been a lull in the robberies and muggings that were taking place over recent months. A lot of this is thanks to our local policeman, Mr Thanh, who was pretty serious about helping us and putting a stop to the crime wave. It's worked!

- And finally, Little Chung (see my last blog!) has been talking to us about where he's been and what he's been up to for the past 18 months. He and I are rebuilding our relationship - I'm wondering what happened to him, he's wondering how I will react to seeing him again after so long. But the signs are all good, and Chung is keen to get back to school asap. So good to have him back...

Now bring on Friday!

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