Sunday, November 05, 2006

On the road

It's been a full week!

On Monday I travelled to Bac Ninh, about 30kms out of Hanoi, with Marc Gold, whose organisation 100 Friends is sponsoring 20 rural children. This was Marc's first trip to Vietnam, so we spent some time looking around the countryside, meeting families and some of the school staff who Blue Dragon is working with.

Then on Wednesday, the Blue Dragon lawyer, Van, and I headed to Saigon to catch up with some important friends. So, for a few brief introductions...

This is Dung, who works as a cook in Saigon. Dung was one of the first street kids we worked with, back in late 2002 / early 2003, and he went on to study at KOTO, a vocational training restaurant for disadvantaged youth.

This is part of a family of two sisters and a brother; the 3 kids have been working on the street at night to pay for their school fees. Their parents also work on the street, and are determined to get their kids through school. The room they rent is tiny, barely big enough for 2 people. When we visited, there was no electricity.

This group of shoe shine boys has been travelling around Vietnam looking for the best shoe shine location... Ha Long Bay, Hanoi, Nha Trang, and now Saigon!

This is another Dung, who I first met when I was living in Saigon over 4 years. He and his mother live on the street; Dung has just recently left school to start a job delivering vegetables.

This is Hoang! He's an orphan who used to shine shoes in Hanoi, and now studies at college in Saigon to be a map maker.

As well as catching up with lots of kids, we visited a drug rehab center and met with some journalists who have been covering stories about internal trafficking. There's an article up at the moment - look here. It's in Vietnamese, but the photos are telling. This story is about the trafficking ring that takes children (maximum age 14) to Saigon from rural areas to work in garment factories.