Sunday, April 25, 2010

Giving and taking in Singapore

Today I am blogging from Singapore; I have traveled over for a quick visit to catch up with one of the Blue Dragon kids - I'll call him "Nam" - who is studying here at Chatsworth International School. I first wrote about Nam going to Chatsworth here.

Being offered a scholarship to Chatsworth felt like winning the lottery. Blue Dragon has been extremely fortunate to receive strong support from several great schools in Singapore, but the day we were invited to send a Blue Dragon kid to study at Chatsworth, I felt like crying with joy.

For Nam, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. He's close to finishing his first year, and will have 3 more years of study to follow. Upon graduation, he will have a certificate that will allow him to apply for whatever university or job he chooses. Even more than that, he will have a set of life experiences, and friends, that will be invaluable to him moving on to a great career.

But life in Singapore isn't all sweet and easy for Nam. He's far from friends and family: this year was the first time he's ever been away from home at Lunar New Year. Not a happy experience. And of course he's studying in a second language, alongside students whose own lives have until now been vastly different to his own.

Chatting with Nam over the last couple of days, I can see that he's determined to do his best and to make this scholarship work. It's Sunday morning, and I've been ditched because he has homework to do - he has his priorities!

Nam is starting to talk about his dream of one day being able to help other disadvantaged kids, just as he was helped. He already has some ideas about what he might do. It's a long road ahead, but it sure is gratifying to know that he is thinking not only about how much more he will gain, but also about what he will be able to put back in.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Here's lookin' at you, kid

Back in February, I wrote about one of the Blue Dragon boys who had serious problems with his eyesight.

Vuong, age 11, could barely see more than 2 metres from his face; but thanks to surgery at the local hospital, he's well on track to a full recovery. One of our Social Workers, Tung, took Vuong and his mother back to the doctor today, and the results are great! One of his eyes now has 80% vision; the other is better than 50% but needs some therapy for further improvement.

Vuong's thrilled, and his mother is all smiles!

Friday, April 16, 2010


The Australian Embassy in Hanoi invited Blue Dragon kids to visit this morning for a few hours of the most amazing hip hop fun with an Australian group called the Indigenous Hip Hop Project.

Hip hip is the 'in thing' among Vietnamese teens, so we took about 10 kids along... and what a great morning we had!

The group started off with a demonstration, and the leader of the company had a chat with our kids about his own life. In short, dance was his life line as a teenager growing up in pretty tough circumstances. This was great for our kids to hear - they need to know that even people in other countries can live in difficulty, too!

Then the kids joined in, learning some dance moves and how to beatbox. They had so much fun! Pics below... the smiles say it all...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Holding off

Quite a bit has been happening over the last weeks. I realise people are wondering how the story of the 3 trafficked girls has ended, but in fact it has not yet ended and for safety I need to hold off before writing more. When I eventually can explain the whole story, it will be a happy ending.

Meantime - below are some pics of kids in Hue, who were trafficked from their villages to work in factories in the south. As part of our support for them now that they are back home, we've been buying bicycles for those who live far from school, and we're about to start building new houses for 3 families.


Monday, April 05, 2010

Moving on

Over the weekend, the kids and staff at the Hoi An Children's Home held a special celebration to farewell one of the Home's residents, 17 year old Nam.

Nam has been living at the Home for 5 years. He grew up on Cham Island, off the coast of central Vietnam, in a loving family but was faced with so many difficulties that his parents could no longer keep him in school without some substantial help.

For kids who come to the Home, although they are materially much better off, they struggle with being far from their families. So while they are fortunate to have the support of the Home, life isn't easy.

At times Nam has struggled too, but he's persevered and done pretty well for himself. He's done fine at school, he's much loved among both children and staff, and his farewell party was a touching send off. Nam will be missed.

Where's he off to? Not far, as it turns out: Nam has been accepted into a vocational training program in Hoi An called Streets. It prepares disadvantaged kids for jobs in Vietnam's burgeoning hospitality industry, and with demand for places so high, Nam really had to prove himself to earn a place.

Nam's dream is to become a great cook so that he can one day prepare a fine meal for his mother that will make her proud. Go for it, Nam - we're all proud of you already!

(In the pics below, Nam is wearing the red shirt).