Friday, March 10, 2006

Visitors and growth hormones

Blue Dragon's street kid center had a change of pace today, with visits from guests both in the morning and afternoon.

This morning we had a visit from the Aussie Ambassador to Vietnam, Bill Tweddell, and his wife Chris. It was great to see their interest not just in our program structire but in the lives of the kids who were there. They then invited me and a Blue Dragon volunteer, Candice, back to their residence for lunch.

No sooner were we back than a team of visitors from the US dropped by - about 12 men and women visiting programs run by Giving It Back To Kids. The founders of GIBTK, Robert and Dorothea, have been friends of Blue Dragon for about 2 years now, and they've recently supported us to buy equipment for the center.

Our kids had a ball with so many visitors to impress. And so many cameras to pose before!

The day was quite a contrast to last night, when the people ringing our doorbell were a boy who had been beaten up and the drug addict responsible....

Blue Dragon is facing some tough issues at the moment regarding services for kids. One young guy we've been working with, named Duc, has a hormone deficiency that has severely stunted his growth. Worse than that, though, Duc lives with chronic pain because of his condition, and his doctors don't expect that he can live to the age of 30. He's 14 now.

We have recently learned that there is a cure - but at a cost of $20,000 over 3 years. I remember back in 2001 when my own father was desperately ill with a multi resistant organism attacking his heart. The weeks in ICU... the emergency air evacuation from Armidale to Newcastle... the heart surgery... the months of receovery... All of this must have cost at least $150,000, paid for by Medicare.

But here in Vietnam, spending $20,000 to save a life seems different… Because the same amount of money could save 20 lives. This raises so many ethical and philosophical issues, but as it is we don’t have $20,000 anyway.

If we can raise the money for Duc, we will offer him the treatment – right now, though, that figure seems impossible. Anybody who wants to know more, just contact me (

And a quick update on the runaway kids we have been helping… Four have now been reunited with their families, and we expect that one more is close to deciding to go back home. He’s already been ringing his mother and talking to her about why he ran away, so fingers crossed for a happy ending.

No comments: