Working with runaway children is a significant part of daily life at Blue Dragon. We have staff whose job is to meet kids on the street and help them sort out their problems, so there are always at least 2 or 3 children around our centre who have run away from home and have been living in Hanoi.
We can't always help the kids to go home - sometimes they have run away for their own safety - but we do try to get them to at least visit their families to open up a line of communication.
Yesterday, two of our staff - Huong and Vi - traveled 6 hours out of Hanoi with a 16 year old boy to reunite him with his family. Here are some photos that give an idea of what's involved...
1. The journey
Many runaways in Hanoi come from very isolated parts of Vietnam. Getting the kids home is often a challenge! The Blue Dragon car does its best, but sometimes needs a little help...
2. The reunion
There are usually tears. Nothing wrong with that at all.
3. The issues
When children run away from home, there are always several related and complex reasons. Poverty is usually (although not always) a big factor. This is the home of the family our staff went to yesterday.
There's almost always a family. Forget the stereotype that 'street kids don't have families.' In all of our work over the past 8 years, we've only encountered one child who has absolutely no family at all - and even in his case, it's probably just that nobody (including the child) knows who the family is. Runaway kids do generally have families, and many (like this one) have family members who truly care about their welfare.