Sunday, September 13, 2009


I am still in Ho Chi Minh City, planning to return to Hanoi on Monday with Hugh and his daughter Lan. Yesterday we held a simple memorial service for Susan Adams at RMIT University, and there'll be another in Hanoi at the Hilton on Tuesday.

My natural instinct when faced with a tragedy like this is to think of those who are nearest and dearest to me. Because of the nature of my work, that's a whole lot of people. So over these past few days I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about the kids who live in Blue Dragon homes, and the street kids who come to our centre, and even those who have long since moved on from Blue Dragon and are living far from us. The introvert in me enjoys having time alone, but right now I am missing the many many people who give me comfort and encouragement through my own hard times.

Being away from Hanoi, I have missed out on a trip that my staff organised yesterday afternoon. During the week, one of the Blue Dragon social workers told me about a centre for children with HIV about an hour's drive from Hanoi. The centre has about 50 kids, and none of them have ever attended school so over the past year the staff have been working with the community and Department of Education to get the local people to accept 15 children into the school.

Everything seemed fine, until the very first day of school... Parents were out protesting, things got violent... And the kids were sent home with the clear message that they were not welcome.

(This article appeared online today - it's about a different centre in a different part of the country, but the story is eerily similar).

So the Blue Dragon staff decided to go out there on the weekend and spend some time visiting the children at the centre. It was intended as a token gesture - we wanted the children to have a different message. We wanted them to know that there ARE people who care for them.

Five staff went, and 5 kids from our Hanoi residence went along too. The photos below are of teens from Blue Dragon playing with infants at the centre.

We know that we haven't solved any long term problems... maybe this visit hasn't changed anything at all.

But an afternoon of playing together, eating together, and sharing gifts has hopefully given the children some encouragement that will help them deal with their feelings of rejection and abandonment.

I guess we all need some encouragement at times.


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