Thursday, October 29, 2009

Radio NZ

Here's a link to a radio interview I did recently on New Zealand radio. There are a few things on here that I have not yet blogged about - such as the Blue Dragon kids who are currently studying in Singapore and New Zealand. I'll get around to writing about that soon...

(P.S. - Some people apparently can't hear the interview using that link. If that's the case, follow this link and scroll down until you see the heading "Michael Brosowski". Thanks for letting me know, VinaMinh!)


Monday, October 26, 2009

Typhoon relief continues

Over the weekend, Blue Dragon worked with the Vietnamese Red Cross to get emergency supplies of rice, noodles, and water filters to families in Hue.

Although the typhoon ended a month ago, flooding continues and families are unable to get back to work - so there's still extensive hunger, homelessness, and general misery.

Auscham in Ho Chi Minh City raised the funds to pay for all this - big thanks to them for their support.

A family outside their demolished home

Taken from a Red Cross vehicle, showing flooded village streets

The roof has been torn away from this home

Blue Dragon staff preparing to distribute boxes of noodles

Some supplies had to be transported by boat to flood affected areas

Families gathering to receive supplies

Traveling by boat...

Getting help into the hands of those who need it


Friday, October 16, 2009

Long Bien festival

An important symbol of Blue Dragon's work in Hanoi is the Long Bien Bridge.

Once a beautiful landmark, famous for being designed by Mr Eiffel himself, it is now a rickety bridge which is home to street kids, beggars, drug dealers, and a night market that thrives and bustles with traders and thieves alike.

But it's still at the heart of Hanoi, and of Hanoians.

Last week the local community held the first ever Long Bien festival, intended to celebrate and recognise the place that the Bridge has in Hanoi's history and spirit.

Blue Dragon got involved because so many of our kids live around the bridge... or on it... or under it...

Follow this link to see photos that the Blue Dragon kids took early this year of the Bridge, as part of a project we organised.

Some of our boys performed a dragon dance, which is thought to bring good luck. The first photo below shows our kids doing the dance along the bridge - and that's another bridge, called Chuong Duong, in the background. Both Long Bien and Chuong Duong span the Red River.

The following 2 photos were taken by Vincent Baumont. The first is taken looking up at the Bridge, which usually isn't quite so festive...

... and the next shows our boys under the body of the dragon.

Oh, and a quick bit of trivia: Long Bien literally means, in English, "Dragon of the River Banks."


Monday, October 12, 2009

Aid to typhoon victims

Following up from an earlier blog about the aftermath of the typhoon: Blue Dragon has delivered rice and other food supplies to about 200 families in Hue. We're happy to report that the families we work with were mostly unharmed by the typhoon - although in the days following they've been going hungry as their normal sources of food have been cut off.

We'll be sending out an update to everyone on our mailing list in coming days, so email Amy - - if you're not on the mailing list but want to be!

And below are a couple of pics of the distribution. The 2nd photo shows our lawyer, Van, with a family whose home has been severely damaged.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Then and now

The photo below is taken in a tent set up on a demolished slum site in Hanoi.

Trang, aged 17, is wearing the pink shirt. This is her family's business: her mother, disabled by a bomb during the American - Vietnam war, relies on this "shop" as her sole source of income.

When I first met Trang and her mother Thanh, they were living in a house on this site. It wasn't a great place to live, but it was better than a tent. A couple of years ago, when the slums were demolished, all the slum owners were compensated - except for Mrs Thanh and her little family. So they erected this tent and now sell tea and drinks to workers from the nearby Long Bien market. A short time later, Trang's father died, so she dropped out of school to help her mother in the shop.

The photo below shows Trang three days ago.

Trang and her mother Thanh were desperate to find a way to get out of their awful circumstances, so they came to Blue Dragon and asked us to help Trang get some vocational training.
We were able to get Trang into a hair dressing course, and this week she has VERY proudly graduated. She's even been offered a job in another business!
Trang is all smiles. Things are looking up now; she has the skills to hold down a decent job, and she's motivated to do well.
A big difference between then and now.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Better now

Most of the news out of Vietnam and around south east asia has just been awful lately - so I thought it was time to post some good news. A few pics below of our kids celebrating the Mid-Autumn festival.... with special thanks to those lovely people who donated moon cakes for everyone to enjoy!

I have no idea what's going on in that last photo, but the first two show the kids making traditional stars in a park.

I also want to thank those individuals and groups who donated food and rice for the relief effort in Hue and Hoi An. I had one very humbling email from a Vietnamese man in the US who was sending us the money he'd been saving up so hard - but believed that the kids who lost all their gear in the typhoon needed it more than he did. That made me want to cry.
Bue Dragon's lawyer and some staff from the UN school, UNIS, are in Hue right now delivering about 2 tonnes of rice and noodles to families who lost everything. Powerful stuff.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Hoi An Children's Home - In Recovery

The flash flood in Hoi An, sparked by the typhoon, has receded, so the kids and staff are in the process of cleaning up and working out what they've lost. These photos have just come through, taken by one of the Social Workers there named Van.

The road leading to the Home - now accessible by boat!

Blue Dragon volunteers carrying supplies to the kids.

The front yard of the Home; trees are down, and filth is everywhere.


Friday, October 02, 2009

Typhoon update

What a rotten week in the Pacific - earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons. Let's hope there's nothing more to come.

I am in Hobart, Tasmania, so information is coming to me. I hugely appreciate those people and groups who have contacted me or my colleagues to offer support.

The news as I have it right now:

The floods in Hoi An are receding - as this was a flash flood, the disaster seems to have moved on pretty quickly. Kids at the Hoi An Children's Home have lost a lot of their personal gear, and furniture has been badly damaged, but I don't yet know the extent of loss.

Just to the north, in Hue, it seems that the typhoon has destroyed many homes. We're working in Hue with children who were trafficked; we need to make sure that this crisis does not lead families to sending their children back to the garment factories in the south. I am waiting to hear how many families need help to repair their homes; it's still too early for rebuilding to begin but this will need to commence in the coming week. Some pics below of the Hue families to help you see what's happening. Some of the houses have been completely demolished.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


The news from central Vietnam today is pretty bad - the typhoon has hit Hoi An and Hue with unusual ferocity. There's not much news at the moment, as power lines and telephones are down, but mobile phones are still working so we're staying in contact with our people on the ground as much as we can.

In Hue, many families have had their homes partly destroyed by the winds: rooves have been blown away, and families in shacks have lost everything. We're going to need to build some houses once the storms have passed.

In Hoi An, the situation is even more urgent. A dam wall collapsed, causing an unexpected and sudden flood of most of the town. The 30 kids at the Hoi An Children's Home are trapped on the 2nd floor of their building; the water rose so suddenly that many of their belongings and equipment belonging to the Home are irretrievably lost. It's heartbreaking, but the good news is that our kids and staff are all safe.

I'm hoping to write more on Saturday, when I have some more info. In the meantime, if anyone is able to pledge support, we're going to need to act fast once the wind and waters recede. Email me at, or contact Amy on So many crises have hit the region that it's going to be tough to raise some funds, but every bit will help.

Check in again on the weekend for an update.