Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Habit

Over the past week, we've been confronted by a problem that we haven't had to deal with very seriously until now. And, just to keep us on our toes, we had to deal with two totally separate cases of the same problem in the same week.


Vietnam has some really strict laws on gambling. It's essentially illegal (apart from the government run daily lotteries), but also quite widespread. The cases that make the media are usually mind-blowing (like this one... and this one... and this one...)

Gambling is the same in any country or culture. It's an addiction that ruins lives. In this respect, Australia and Vietnam are no different.

The cases we've been dealing with have involved the older brothers of two of our kids. In unrelated incidents, one lost his savings on gambling so followed a friend to the market to rob shoppers; and the other gambled the taxi he leases... and lost.

Both of these young men have wives, infant children, and debts. Both are from families that have been devastated by the death of a parent in recent years. And both have younger brothers in Blue Dragon's program who were utterly torn apart by their arrest and imprisonment.

One case has had a reasonably happy ending - the police agreed to put an end to the case and record the crime without sentencing the man to prison. But in the taxi case, the young man is likely to spend several years in prison. The taxi owner is not impressed (and it's not the first time this has happened).

Although these older brothers haven't been able to support their younger brothers financially, there's a strong sense of reliance and interdependence. Vietnamese families are very close; to lose an older brother to prison is not dissimilar to losing one through death. Added to that, there's the added sense of shame which is very powerful.

This is one of those situations that Blue Dragon can't help much with. The law has to run its course; the young men have done something wrong, and it's reasonable that they be punished. But what loss and hurt their addictions have caused for their families.

No comments: