Sunday, August 23, 2009

The long way home

During the past week, 3 runaway kids wandered into our Hanoi drop in centre. Of course, none of them admitted to being runaways, but their filthy clothes and wild behavior was something of a clue!

Since Blue Dragon started, we've reunited 55 runaway kids with their families. It would be fair to say that that has involved 55 weeks of work: on average, we need at least a week with each and every runaway before we can take them home and successfully resolve the issues with their parents.

In last week's group of 3 was one very young boy, looking like he was 5 but apparently he was 8. It was clear that he dearly missed his family, but the other kids were pressuring him into staying with them... and on the streets, you learn very quickly to abide by the group.

So this little guy, Tuan, was torn between missing his mother and needing to follow the older kids. Finally, on Friday, Tuan agreed to go home. (As a side note: all major developments at Blue Dragon take place on Friday afternoons).

Tuan is from Lang Son, a province bordering on China and renowned for being a major 'crossing point' for human traffickers. Tuan was lucky that he made it all the way to Blue Dragon without something pretty awful happening to him.

Two of our staff, Van and Vi, drove with Tuan for the 4 hour journey north of Hanoi. As they neared Tuan's home, he suddenly changed his mind: he didn't want to go home! But with assurances that he was safe, he eventually calmed down and went to see his family.

Tuan was indeed safe: his family love him very much and lived in dread of what fate had befallen him. Tuan was away from home for 20 days. I can't imagine the terror his family must have gone through.

He had taken to the streets because of a few problems at home, and in particular one family member treating him badly. But the biggest problem of all was that his mother had left the family home to work in Hanoi. Tuan's father is long gone, so he was living in the care of his grand mother who loves him dearly but simply couldn't substitute for his own mum.

On learning this, Van and Vi got on the phone and tracked down Tuan's mother in Hanoi. She was in tears to hear of what her son had been through, and relieved to know he was safe and well. She's been working on building sites as a laborer, carrying bricks and doing other simple jobs to earn enough to live on. She desperately wants to care for her son, but is too overwhelmed by her own circumstances.

To us, though, this looks like a situation we can help with. Son wants to be with mum... Mum wants to be with son... Each need some help to make it happen.

Van, Vi and little Tuan got back in the car and returned to Hanoi, this time heading for the mother's house. (If only Tuan had known where she lived before this journey began!) Mother and son are back together now, and early this coming week we'll meet with them to see if Blue Dragon can help to keep them together. For now, at least, they're happy.

And for our next trick, we need to see how we can help the other 2 runaways...


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1 comment:

Huybau said...

Hi Michael,
I've been following your blog for a while, and I'm thinking it could be a good idea to provide also a Vietnamese version of your writing in the end of each post. With that, the kids, and maybe many other Vietnamese who cannot read English well can get better ideas of the wonderful things you're doing. If you don't mind, from now I will translate the posts and send it to you by mail so you can use them if you think they're appropriate. Please kindly reply to me at quochuy1976(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks Mike.