Thursday, August 07, 2008

Ton goes home

Since we started our Link program late last year, Blue Dragon has had some success in working with kids who have been living rough on the streets for many years.

The idea behind the program was reaching out to teenage boys who are 'chronically homeless' and unlikely to ever have a regular home, education, or job. It hasn't all been roses - 2 of the original 7 are in reform school now. Others have come and gone, though, and despite the rough patches there have been some inspiring outcomes.

One of the 'newcomers' to the program is a 16 year old named Ton. He's been on the streets for 6 years - with one extended break in a detention facility. Ton came to us early in 2008; although I had never met him before, he simply said that he wanted to get off the street and go back to school, so would I mind if he stayed at our shelter? It's quite common for kids to tell us what they think we want to hear; so on that first day when Ton came to see me, I really didn't know if he was serious or not. But since then, he has not spent a single night on the streets, or gone back to the gangs that he once roamed with.

Ton's story, like most others, is tragic. First his mother abandoned him, then his father walked out. In the earliest years of his life, Ton was left in the care of an aunty, who looked after him because there was nobody else who cared. Ton's aunty was loving and treated him like a son; but at age 10, Ton felt that he was being a burden, so he left home and headed to Hanoi.

For 6 years Ton looked after himself, occasionally getting into trouble with the authorities. His aunty and grandparents had no idea where he was, and feared the worst; but they never forgot him.

When Ton went hom earlier this week, for the first time in 6 years, many tears were shed. Ton's family was overjoyed - they never thought they would see him again - and they took him to see a small plot of land that belongs to him. For all the hardships he has been through, Ton is quite a lucky guy to still have a family who cares so much.

Today Ton returned to Hanoi, this time with his grandparents, who wanted to see the home he is living in and thank the staff of Blue Dragon for looking after their only grandson.

In coming weeks Ton will return to school - he's been out of the system for quite a while now, but he has a goal and intends to make the best of his opportunities.

This is one kid who really has a bright future in the making.

1 comment:

OznAsia said...

What a great success story. Well done.