Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A week at Blue: Tuesday

Given the worrying events that took place yesterday morning, it would be fair to expect that today would have been fraught with fears and challenges. But Vietnam is much too random for that. Tomorrow there might be a hurricane, or maybe a snowstorm, but today was pretty calm.

About the Chinese traffickers: no news or developments. The teenage boy in lock-up: no news. The 16 year old who (thinks he) has been sentenced to prison: his mother didn't come to meet us yesterday or this morning because, woe betide, she has a headache.

So of all the big dramas that we were dealing with on Monday, not one so much as poked me in the ribs today. Maybe tomorrow?

Much of my day was occupied with catching up with people: coffee with Jim from Language Link, who has been a huge help to Blue Dragon over the years (as well as a fantastic friend); a meeting with our Communications department; and a very long chat with an ABV volunteer, John, who is here in Hanoi helping us to review and develop our IT department. Back in 2006, the Irish Embassy helped us to set up an IT room, and since then we've had a couple of amazing IT guys working with us. It's time now for us to figure out the direction of IT in Blue Dragon, and how to best use our resources for the street kids and children with disabilities who visit our centre. We have lots of decisions to make, so today was just the start of discussions.

And throughout all this chatter, a few notable events marked the day.

First, one of our teens who used to work as a shoeshine boy in Ho Chi Minh City is preparing to open a mobile phone shop near the Blue Dragon centre. We helped him to open a small business late last year, but for various reasons he needs to move and fortunately he's found a little place for rent not too far from where we are. Today he and some of the other kids scrubbed down the walls and repainted the interior - in just a few more days he should be ready to start his new shop!

Second, I was thrilled to get a call from Paul, the Country Director of Saigon Children's Charity, telling me that his staff have had something of a breakthrough with a street kid I contacted them about last month. Since January 1 this year I have been in contact with a family working on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Each time I'm in the south, I spend time with them at their motorbike-helmet stall by the side of a filthy road, and Blue Dragon has been helping out with some money to support a newborn baby in the family. However, one of the kids in the family really needs help to get back to school, so I called on Paul to see if his organisation could be involved. Originally I was just after some advice and introductions, but he's gone much further than that, and it now looks like the teenage son will be starting school next month! That's fantastic news.

And third, one of our longest serving staff members has been granted a visa to study in the US for a year! Van, who is well known to readers of this blog, leaves on Saturday. I'm thrilled for him, and I know he deserves this opportunity; but selfishly, I also hope the coming year goes VERY quickly. Van is one of our two lawyers, and has been involved in just about every major event / development / crisis since I met him in 2003. I'm not sure how we're going to survive without him!

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