Saturday, October 15, 2011
Late last night I received an email from one of the Blue Dragon boys, "Ton."
I'm in Singapore at the moment, catching up with friends and supporters, so it was nice to get a message from Ton. He's about 14 and has had a pretty tough life, but so far he's been able to keep on the right track.
Last night, Ton was asking if I would help him buy something. I couldn't understand what he was asking, so he sent me a photo.
It was a photo of a stun gun. He says he's afraid of being robbed because he lives in a bad part of the city, and he wants to protect himself.
In contrast, I have spent the past 10 days or so visiting international schools whose students have been supporting Blue Dragon. Each in their own way has done something amazing to help the kids in Vietnam.
The German European School uses its annual swim gala to raise the funds that we need to teach swimming to Blue Dragon kids. (About 10 children drown every day in Vietnam - learning to swim is massively important). The French School students create Christmas cards and sell them to support the children at our drop in centre. Some children from Chatsworth International presented me yesterday with $10.80, which they raised by making and selling origami items in their spare time.
During the week I also received some emails from schools in rural Australia, including Narara Public School - a very small school on the Central Coast of NSW, where the students raised over $1100 by holding raffles and selling food... including this extraordinary cake! (I have never seen anything like it!)
The Blue Dragon cake at Narara Public School
I find all of this incredibly inspirational, because for all of the mess that our world is in - for all of the wars, and financial collapses, and child trafficking and corruption - the world is still full of kids who want to make things better.
On Thursday night I sat in a hall at United World College (UWC) watching brilliant dance and music performances, created entirely by the students, to celebrate UN Day. There were Korean pop dancers, American hip hop, Hungarian traditional dance... even a tribute a Bob Marley. I sat with tears in my eyes, stunned by what young people are capable of.
Which brings me back to Ton and his dream of protecting himself with a stun gun.
Ton is just as capable as any teenager of making the world a better place. Had he been born somewhere else, in another family or another time, he might be the one raising funds for kids in need rather than needing to receive the help from Blue Dragon.
I find it so sad that this little guy feels worried enough about his safety that he would ask me to buy him a weapon. That's not the world I want to live in.
My time in Singapore has certainly inspired me, and in a way it's reinvigorated my hope in humanity. But in a few days time I will be back with the Blue Dragon kids, where there is still so much to do - and so much need to bring that hope to children who seem to have so little to hope for.