Saturday, March 18, 2006

Get out of my house

Our saga with the nine runaway boys had a light at the end of the tunnel yesterday. All but three of the nine have already gone back to their families and had a "happy ever after" reunion.

The smallest of the boys, a very timid 12 year old named Tuan, had been steadfastly refusing to give us any information that would enable us to contact his family. We certainly don't insist that the kids tell us - if they don't want to, we just wait until they do.

Yesterday, Tuan came to tell us that he wanted to go home. He's an orphan, but he was missing his step-father who lives in Lang Son, a rural province sharing the border with China.

We got all the important stuff out of the way - a haircut, some photos at Hoan Kiem Lake - and our lawyer, Van, hopped on a bus to accompany Tuan to Lang Son.

These trips that Van makes are incredibly difficult; every time he turns up in a village with a missing child, any number of problems and complications can arise.

But this trip is the first time that the child's family refused to accept their child back.

Tuan's story is complex. His father died when he was a baby. His mother remarried a blind man who already had a son; and then, some years later, Tuan's mother died.

The step father simply doesn't want Tuan. His exact words were: "I have only one son, and that's not him."

When Tuan did live with the step father, he had to quit school to look after a buffalo, and also to take the blind man to a temple to beg. The step father doesn't seem even slightly appreciative of that.

And so... Van has returned to Hanoi this morning, with Tuan. Blue Dragon doesn't have the facility or staff to raise a child so young, so we will spend our Saturday afternoon contacting charitable homes that might be able to take Tuan in and raise him.

More twists in this tale are certain to come...