Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stuff for schools

Around Vietnam, Blue Dragon is helping about 1000 kids aged from 5 to 21.

Most of these kids are still students - which means we are also working with about 40 schools.

Our goal for the schools is to help them serve their students better, and one way we can do this is by providing the basic equipment that they need. This is especially important as many of the schools we work with are in very poor rural areas, and most of their students live in serious poverty.

This week, I am very happy to say that Blue Dragon is providing equipment to 8 of those schools, all in rural Bac Ninh province. Some schools need computers; some need desks and chairs; and still others need books for their students.

As a former teacher myself, I understand how important it is for schools to have good teaching resources for the benefit of all of their children. It's great to be in a position to help these schools, and I sure hope that we can help many more in 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day at Blue Dragon

The Blue Dragon kids and staff had a terrific Christmas party yesterday. The full set of pics are here, on Facebook.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas!

To all Blue Dragon's friends around the world - a very happy Christmas to you!

Here in Hanoi, we're planning a party in the park for Saturday the 25th. I'll post some photos over the weekend.

Today we were invited to have lunch at the Sofitel Plaza, so about 15 of us ate at the Ming Palace Restaurant - what a treat! (See below to get a glimpse of our feast). It's a bit hard to not sneak home early and have a nap...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Well, it's kind of like this...

Apologies for the silence these last few weeks! Anyone who knows me well will know that my lack of blogging can only mean one thing: too much is going on!

Over the last couple of months, we've had some very complicated happenings that read like a season of Prison Break - so it's been easier to say nothing than try to explain.

Here's the sanitised summary: back in October, our shelter was robbed by a masked intruder at night. Whoever was involved was tightlipped about it - for about 6 weeks there was not a murmur on the streets about who had done this, although we had our suspicions.

One of the very few people who knew what had happened finally opened up after a near fatal accident - but in telling us was risking his life and so had to disappear. His sudden compulsion to tell the truth came about when he saw how all his 'friends' abandoned him the moment he was in trouble, while Blue Dragon staff stood by his side and cared for him.

In short, he told us who the 3 burglars were, and how they had planned and carried out their crime.

So we knew who had robbed us, but had only the testimony of someone who was both implicated and on the run.

We passed information on to the police, including the names of the 3 young men who were involved, but nothing happened. And then - still nothing. And then - some more weeks of nothing.

Finally, the ring leader (I'll call him "C") was caught for a separate offense. He was riding a stolen motorbike, racing without a helmet, and carrying weapons. He confessed to robbing us.

And then he was released.

Some more weeks of 'nothing' ensued. During this time, it was quite difficult for me and my staff to see these guys every other day - to pass them on the street and see them wave at us! - but not be able to do anything.

Last week, the other 2 young men were detained, again on separate charges: apart from robbing Blue Dragon, they were leading a crime spree which seems to have involved stealing at least 30 motorbikes. They're now in serious trouble and, apart from one of the guy's mothers ringing us to ask if we'll help to get them released (you really think we'd do that!?) it looks like we won't have to worry about them any more.

The ringleader, C, however, continues to enjoy his freedom. He spends his days at an internet cafe near where our football team plays, and his nights stealing motorbikes. But we continue to hope that someone will eventually catch him.

To top it all off, someone made a half hearted attempt at robbing my house recently, and got away with a rag and a broken carry bag. They then rang me to claim that they were dead, and blame me for that. (Eh?)

Oh well, this is the silly season, I suppose.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Balloons and baked bread

The kids at Blue Dragon's Hanoi centre have had a real treat for the last couple of weeks.

Some amazing Singaporean volunteers have been visiting and teaching basic cooking skills. They even donated an oven, so the kids have been baking away every afternoon and creating all kinds of sweet dishes to share - brownies, bread, and a great assortment of cakes.

While the food bakes, the kids are learning to make balloon shapes. It's just too much fun!

Special thanks to the great people at Wow! who have organised all this.

Pics below...