Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Such things

The Vietnamese journalist who wrote this article put the question to me during our discussions: Do you agree with the experts who say that Vietnam can not stamp out child labour and trafficking?

Vietnam has a problem with child trafficking and exploitation. There's no question about that. Yesterday, my team removed a 10 year old girl from a factory in Saigon.

She was 1 of 11 kids we rescued altogether. The oldest was about 15 - but of the 11, only one knew their date of birth, so precise ages are a bit hard to determine. What I can say is that they were all tiny, and none should have been working in a garment factory.

Of the 11, 3 are completely illiterate. Only one has completed Grade 6. Another 4 have an education level below Grade 4.

Yes, this is a problem. But it is not unique to Vietnam, and it is not insurmountable.

A few hundred years ago, the poet William Blake was writing about the awful atrocities inflicted upon children in England. Kids were being stuffed down chimneys as a way of clearing soot - and this was considered a legitimate job for a child!

"Are such things done on Albion's shore?" he asked. Yes they were; but not for much longer. Such things would today lead to lengthy prison sentences and a massive public outcry.

Vietnam is now headed down the same road. In taking those 11 kids out of factories on Monday and Tuesday, Blue Dragon Children's Foundation - along with the Hue Red Cross and government officials - were not just restoring freedom to a few disadvantaged children. We were hurting the traffickers and factory owners who have invested their time and money into recruiting these slaves. We were also drawing public attention to the crime of exploitative child labour.

This is exactly what needs to be done for Vietnam to shake off the shackles of child trafficking.

I'm not sure if there really are any experts who say Vietnam can't get past this problem. If there are - well, I'm not sure that they should be called "experts."

I believe completely that child trafficking and exploitation in Vietnam can be brought pretty close to an end. (I qualify that, because every country in the world has this problem; it's just a matter of scale).

I also believe that the end may be in our lifetime. Such things cannot be tolerated much longer.

The 11 kids freed from factories on June 14 and 15, 2010

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The work you do is truly awesome and your work helps fulfill God's dream of a better world.