Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Happy Birthday Blog

Today my blog is one year old!

I started on November 25 last year, mostly with the aim of improving my chances of winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Little did I realise that in 2006, the swimsuit section would have a much higher weighting. So some guy from India or somewhere won. Apparently he had a heads-up on the comp and had been preparing his bikini line since January. (Microlending! Blah. What's the good of that? Blue Dragon has a dog named Wheels - now THAT'S something to get excited about).

But still the blog has been worthwhile. Despite the occasional flippant / insulting / vitriolic post, I really have tried to present to the world some insight into what life is like for street kids in Vietnam. And it's been cool to see people from every corner of the world stopping by to read the blog.

Apart from celebrating the blog's birthday, this has been a huge week at Blue Dragon. Over the past few months, we've had an overcrowding problem in our residence for street kids. The idea of the residence is to provide a home for street kids who want to go back to school and have nowhere else to live. So we had a small house with six beds... but over time more and more children have needed a place to stay! At one point, we had 12 teenage boys there, and a young girl living with our chief psychologist because there were no other options. Not ideal!

We've been looking for funds to start a new, and larger house for some time. It's not just a building that we need, but staff to supervise 24 hours per day, plus food, supplies, equipment, furniture... And we figured that if we were going to do it, we should really do it properly.

So now the house is open, and 10 boys are living there. All are kids who were once street children, and are now no more. All go either to school or vocational training. All are on their way to a better life.

In the interests of their privacy, I won't post any photos. But I will thank Tony Foster and his law firm Freshfields; they have contributed the funds to rent the house and hire the staff. Without them - we'd have no new residence.

Another big contributor has been the local NGO Coup De Pouce, who have provided furniture and equipment; as have Padraic Fleming and Greet, two expat volunteers in Hanoi who raised some money through a photo exhibition. And finally, big thanks go to Vicki Teo in Singapore, who is providing a year's supply of hygiene products and a substantial quantity of food!

(I should point out that NONE of these people or groups asked for any publicity for their generosity - all the more reason for me to thank them).

So this is all big news. Meantime, we are preparing to launch a project next Wednesday, funded by the Irish Embassy... Busy times, but all with great results for the kids.

1 comment:

Mosher said...

Superb news - and I'm narked at missing all your TV coverage despite being in Oz. Right about the time it was being broadcast, I was travelling around the Northern Territory where they think television is an evil "magic box" conjured up by the devil himself...

Any chance you could get copies of the footage for publication online? I'd be happy to sort that out for you if you can get the files!