Monday, August 11, 2008

Home free

Blue Dragon's lawyer-extraordinnaire, Van, has returned to Hanoi, so at last I have some info about his trip to rescue trafficked children in Ho Chi Minh City. Van's on the left in this photo; Mr Phat from the Hue Red Cross is in there as well; and 7 of the 8 kids are pictured. (The 8th kid, a boy, wanted to get his hair dyed before returning home to Hue!)

All of the children were working in small factories or in home-based factories, cutting out cloth for garments. The youngest of the kids Van rescued is an 11 year old girl; the oldest is a 15 year old boy.

Not all of the factory owners were agreeable to losing their free labour, but they didn't have much choice and maybe will think twice before recruiting children next time.

Van accompanied the 8 children home on the train - that's a trip of about 700kms - and experienced the joy or reuniting them with their families. The children, of their own volition, spoke out about the terrible time they've had - working up to 16 hours a day in squalid conditions with barely enough food - so we hope that the word is spreading through the community.

But we have more work to do!

First, we need to support these 8 children, and the 35-or-so others who we have taken home in the past, to return to school and get involved in their communities again. Our dream right now is to create a Youth Center for the children in their village so they can have a safe place to hang out, play and seek help.

But second, we have to go back to Ho Chi Minh City... the 10 year old pictured below is just one of the many, many kids we are yet to rescue...