In the final days of 2009, Blue Dragon staff went on a rescue trip to the factories of Ho Chi Minh City to find children who have been trafficked from central Vietnam to work in the south.
Altogether, the trip secured the release of 6 children, aged from 10 to 14, including 5 boys and 1 girl. With lunar new year coming up, the factories are desperate to keep the children in their service, so this was a real struggle - it took a day and a half of work before even the first child could be released!
One of the 6 kids went home immediately, while the other 5 went back as a group. Here's a photo of the 5 who traveled back together, along with a government official from Hue province who accompanied us on this trip:
Securing the release of the children involved an awful lot of negotiation and argument. The 2nd boy from the left (in the green shirt) is a 12 year old named Ty. He was desperate to get away from the factory, and his parents wanted him home, but the factory boss wouldn't let him go. Our staff had to hatch a plan for the boy to literally 'make a run for it' while they waited in a taxi down the street. Ty jumped in the car, they sped off - straight to the local police station to make a report. A bit frightening for the poor kid, but there was no other way to get him out.
The boy and the girl below are 2 of the many kids we were unable to take home on this trip... The boy is 12, the girl is 13.
The train trip back to Hue took about 26 hours: but the kids were thrilled to be reunited with their families.
... and the final step was to get together about 40 government and Red Cross officials from Hue for a debrief. This was on January 1, 2010 - so they were pretty keen to be there! At this point of the operation, our goal is to start 'fire proofing' the village by letting everyone know who the traffickers are, what life is like in the factories, and get the leaders to start thinking about how they can put a stop to this problem.
A great way to start the new year!