Sunday, January 13, 2008

Looking forward

With Christmas and new year behind us, Blue Dragon is now looking forward to the next big date on the calendar: Tet, or Lunar New Year.

The first day of the Year of the Rat will be February 7. We'll be holding our Third Annual Tet Awards Night on January 22nd; this is our hugest event of the year, when all of the kids who we know through our Hanoi program come together to receive gifts and certificates in an awards ceremony that's almost identical to Oscars night in the US.

At this time of year, Vietnamese people are looking for auspicious signs of good things to come. Families go out shopping to show off their success and to start the new year with new possessions. For most Blue Dragon kids, the only new possessions they have come from us, and the donations that people pass on to us.

One happy family this week is that of Ngoc, the 18 year old Chief Editor of Blue Dragon's monthly newsletter, who was stabbed over a month ago by some highly inaccurate hit-men who were out to kill somebody else. Their philosophy of 'near enough is good enough' cost Ngoc a kidney and some long term damage to both lungs. But Ngoc is now back at home, and also back at school! He started classes again last Monday, and I understand he is preparing for half yearly exams in a week or so.

We organised some major renovations to Ngoc's house, to make it cleaner and safer for somebody with lung problems. It's no mansion, but it certainly is much fresher, cleaner and brighter than it ever was before.

Another young guy who will go into the new year with a reason to be hopeful is another boy named Ngoc; this one is 13, and he came to Hanoi originally to have a cleft lip operation. Although he returned home to his village, he asked to come back to Blue Dragon because, despite being a teen, he's never been to school and was completely illiterate. For the past couple of months, Ngoc has been studying basic literacy with volunteers at our centre. This week, he started Grade 1 at a local school. What a terrific turn of events for him.

Two other teens have just gone to Ho Chi Minh City for drug rehabilitation; these are brothers who have been struggling with addictions for some years, and just weeks ago had to bury their father, who died of a heart attack. Their Tet will be spent in a treatment facility, which is nobody's ideal way of spending this time of year... But hopefully it will pave the way for them to have a great year to come.

One other teenager I wrote about at Christmas, a 17 year old named Chau, will be going in to Tet with a very uncertain outlook for the year. Chau is being treated for cancer in Hue Hospital. The doctors are taking great care of him, and his strength has improved tenfold since he was admitted some weeks ago. But I fear that this is because the symptoms of his illness are receding, while the underlying problems might not be changing much at all.

There are some new kids who we are just starting to work with; I'll be writing about them soon. More inspiration and heartbreak to come!

1 comment:

ourman said...

I couldn't leave a comment on the post above for some reason but congratulations to all the kids and hope you all have a great Tet.

Thinking of you all (and Vietnam) from back here in Newcastle, UK.

I'll be joining in the New Year celebrations at our China Town but I'll be in Hanoi in spirit.