Monday, June 02, 2008

The Big Room turns 5

Today was a very special anniversary for Blue Dragon: the Big Room turned 5 years old!

The Big Room is the first residential home that we started, back in 2003. Blue Dragon wasn't even officially a recognised organisation then. We had no money, no staff, and no legal status, but we did have a group of kids who wanted to get off the streets and go back to school. So we took the plunge and rented a house.

The home started off with 6 teenage boys, all kids who I had met on the streets shining shoes. We employed one of their mothers to supervise and care for them, and also recruited a team of volunteers to teach English and run educational activities. Our budget for the first year was a whopping $5000! This was donated to us by some expatriate women who hardly knew us, but believed that we were trying to do the right thing. (Thanks, Chantelle and Danielle!)

Five years on... the kids aren't kids any more! There has been a lot of movement in and out of the house, as some kids have moved out and others have moved in. All residents now are 18 or over, and have good jobs - some in fine restaurants, and one even works at Blue Dragon. The Big Room gives them a much better home than they could otherwise have, while allowing them to save money so that they can move out eventually and have homes of their own.

Of course, over the years there have been many dramas and comedies at the Big Room. A broken arm... frightening visits from the police... and the now-infamous "beer on a string" incident (but you had to be there to understand it). In 2004, the German Embassy paid for an upgrade for the building, although in 2006 a project in a neighbouring school funded by Plan International completely blocked all natural light from entering the house. Grrr.... But anyway, over the years we've watched the kids become young adults and take their place in society.

Today's celebration was a chance to acknowledge the exceptional successes of a small group of street kids who took their destinies into their own hands. We're proud of ya, guys!

Moving in: June 2, 2003

Past and present residents - plus a few friends - celebrate the 5th anniversary

... and how could we have a party without a cake!?


Mosher said...

Certainly a day to celebrate. One of my friends is forty*cough*something today. Also, my better half *and* one of my friends are 30.

Four birthdays in one day? Who'd-a thunk it?

Anonymous said...

woot woot! BIG CONGRATS! Five years is a long time. And Blue Dragon's achieved so much. Are some of the boys still living there at the original Big Room? Since you've all moved to a new building haven't you?

And that cake is like, WHOAAA! *drools* :)