On Tuesday morning, two teenage boys turned up at Blue Dragon. The 14 year old, Quy, is a familiar face. I've met him a few times, while visiting the countryside of another kid - a runaway boy named To, who we took home to his family and have visited several times since.
Quy was with a 17 year old brother, Thanh, who has a disability. One of his legs is twisted around; apparently he was born with the condition.
Quy, Thanh, and their oldest brother Ty, are orphans. Their mother died some years ago - I don't know the details - but their father died, 4 years ago, of a protracted illness.
(The boys are pictured below in my office: Thanh in the light shirt; Ty in the middle; and Quy in black).
When Quy and Thanh appeared at Blue Dragon, they told me they had both quit school to find jobs. Their reason: their father left behind a huge pile of medical bills, and they now owe over $1000US in debts. As the three brothers rely on just one brother, Ty, for an income, they have no way of paying back the debt... unless they all get jobs.
So they spent the day in Hanoi, and we encouraged them to consider other possibilities. What kind of job can a 14 year old do, and receive a decent income? And what about Thanh - he's finished Grade 11, so it seems a pity to not go on and complete his final year of high school. On top of that there's the reality that employment for people with even minor disabilities is really tough in Hanoi; people with 'imperfections' are rarely considered employable.
On Wednesday morning there was a new development: their oldest brother, Ty, came to see me. He had not known what Quy and Thanh were doing. He had no idea of their plans. Their decision to quit school and get jobs had been kept secret, because they knew Ty would disagree.
But they are so desperate to help their brother, and get the burden of this debt off their shoulders, that they ran away and hoped I would help them find a job.
Tonight the three brothers are back in their countryside, with the two younger boys preparing to re-enrol at school. We have promised to help them with their school fees, and also with some rice every month...
But what we'd really like to do is find a way to help them with their debt. It's accruing interest, so it ain't going away. It's just sitting on their shoulders, keeping them from eating well and having a decent life.
So a call for help... is anybody interested in helping out the boys? Don't leave a message, but email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post Script: We've done it! Enough money has been donated to the boys! And I'm the lucky guy to tell them on Saturday morning! Thank you, blog world... - Friday 12.21 pm