Friday, February 23, 2007

Going home

Lunar New Year - Tet - is officially over, and it's now the Year of the Pig. I have no idea what that means, other than it's apparently a great year to have a baby.
Vietnam shuts down for Tet, although the lead-up to the holiday is the most maniacal shopping-spree you can imagine: thousands of people buying trees, flat-screen TVs, and furniture, and carrying it all home on motorbikes.

Blue Dragon didn't really shut down this year. Our Residence closed, but we still had kids with nowhere to go, so they ended up staying at the HQ watching DVDs and riding bikes around town. A few of us worked through, ploughing through piles of admin that have been glaring us in the face for too long.

Tet is the time that everybody goes home to their families, and that mostly means visiting the countryside. For our kids, Tet can be a difficult time, as they don't all have families, or families who will welcome them home.

Shortly before Tet, a 12 year old boy came to our centre and asked for help to go home. He had runaway from home four years earlier, and had not seen his family since. Apart from a few months in a detention centre, this boy had spent the whole time sleeping on the streets, in trees, and under bridges.

We accompanied him back to the countryside and found his family, who were astonished to see him again. They were sure he was dead. But now he's back home, and will return soon to school. Looks like a happy ending.
On the very first day of the Tet holidays, one of our street kids turned up at the centre with a child he had 'found' roaming the streets collecting scrap. The little guy (pictured) is 11 years old, and had run away from home two months earlier. He stayed with us over the new year, and yesterday our laywer, Van, accompanied him back to his family home near the Chinese border.

These runaway cases are always incredibly complex and sensitive. So much could go wrong... And we don't even have funding or staff specifically for this role of working with runaways and reuniting them with their families. But I can honestly say that this part of our work is the most rewarding of all.


Taiwan said...

The "Pig" year in Chinese communities is based on a cycle of 12 kinds of animals. They are in such sequence as mouse year, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, chicken, dog, and pig. Of course, it seems an interesting idea to think that the pig year means having lots of babies. To the Vietnamese, the way the count the "animal" year may differ slightly from the above 12 ones. This needs to be confirmed by your Vietnamese friend.

bichxa said...

Just an opinion, as pig's life these days typically involve only sleeping and eating, it must be the most peaceful life among 12 animals. Vietnamese believes that their children would not have to struggle to have food to eat lilke themselves (remember most of the parents at this period has endured either big or small part of the war) Instead of running/working like a horse, a pig-year borned child might be granted to have a life with people bringing him/her food and relaxation. Lastly, having lots of child-standing for Happiness is one of the three best luck/god in Vietnamese traditional thought (the other two are Health- long life and Wealth).
Happy new year!