Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Every Sunday morning, Blue Dragon staff organise games of football for kids living around the Red River. With soccer as the unofficial national religion, it's no wonder that we get up to 80 kids every week; and the challenge for us is to use our contact with them to do some greater good (greater, even, than an hour of football).

So from time to time we organise workshops for the kids to join after football; and in the past 2 months we've held some workshops to teach the kids about how to prevent HIV infections.

HIV/AIDS is a rapidly growing problem in Vietnam; people here commonly believe in luck and superstition, so it's not unusual to hear people say things like "I won't get AIDS because I'm a good person and fate will protect me." And unprotected sex isn't the only cause of high transmission rates. In the area surrounding the Red River in Hanoi, drug use is rampant and needles are usually shared among friends before being discarded on the street. One morning at football we had to sweep aside almost 20 discarded needles before play could begin.

Vietnam has some innovative local organisations to support victims of HIV/AIDS, and these same groups are available to teach youth all about the disease.

Meeting in a local kindergarten near the football field...

Demonstrating a safe way to pick up a discarded needle

The workshops have been well attended - kids came to one of the sessions even though torrential rain had forced the cancellation of football! And it's great to see that the kids have the maturity to discuss the taboo topic of HIV/AIDS...