Monday, July 05, 2010

A week at Blue: Monday

When the first person to speak to you at the office in the morning is a lawyer saying "We need to talk," you get the impression that the day is going to be 'colourful'. And it was.

The Blue Dragon boy who was detained by the police over the weekend spent last night in lock up, while the authorities work out what to do with him. He hasn't been charged with any crime - he was picked up for loitering and some suspicious behaviour - but the boy's mother has told the police that she wants him sent to reform school. I don't think that's the right thing to do, but Blue Dragon doesn't have any right to intervene; we can only wait to see if he will be released.

Next was the news that the child traffickers who kidnapped 3 girls and took them to China back in March have sent some of their colleagues to Vietnam to gather information about how the girls were able to escape. This is fairly ominous, and we are working closely with the police to ensure that the girls, and our staff, will be safe.

And to make it "an even three", one of the Blue Dragon boys who used to live in our shelter, and now lives with his mum, turned up to say that he's been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison. We have hardly seen him this year, and he didn't let us know that he was even going to court, so this is rather shocking news. He has a couple of weeks to appeal, but at this stage it looks like he might have misunderstood the court verdict - we're certainly hoping that's the case. He's only just turned 16; a stretch in prison will be shattering for him.

So after a pretty heavy dose of bad news this morning, it was nice to head down to Hanoi's Old Quarter in the afternoon to meet up with a couple of friends from Australia who are passing through Vietnam. My mobile phone didn't ring or buzz even once during lunch - a record!

Throughout the whole day, our drop in centre was like an ants nest, with kids coming and going non stop. Because of the summer holidays, we have at least triple the usual number of children coming to see us, and to cope we have a whole range of activities organised, with everything from flower arranging to roller skating. But the social workers are right on top of it all, and somehow things flowed smoothly.

Before heading home for the day, I spent some time at our street kids' shelter to talk to them about the two former residents who are in some trouble with the law at the moment. None of them had heard this news about their friends, so they were a little surprised. We finished up by talking about what each of them can do to prevent getting into trouble like this themselves in the future. Hopefully, hopefully, they'll take that seriously.

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