The news on Friday February 24 was a massive blow. One of our boys, 20 year old Nghia, was killed in a hit-and-run near his home in the countryside.
Nghia had been on his way home to collect some paperwork that he needed to open his second mobile phone shop in Hanoi. This is a young guy who had overcome major difficulties in life to become a real 'success story'. And here at Blue Dragon, he was greatly loved. The 100 or so people who packed into our drop-in centre the following Monday were a testament to that.
I was particularly close to Nghia; I was the person who first met him on the streets and helped him get back to his family. Over the years, we had a great friendship and could call on each other for anything. Right at the start of January, Nghia walked into our office wearing a jacket that was far too big for him. When I commented on what a nice jacket it was, he took it off and gave it to me. It fitted perfectly, so he insisted I keep it. Talk about "giving me the shirt off his back." That was typical Nghia. Everyone who knows him has a similar story.
Losing him so suddenly and so unexpectedly has been tough. Really tough. I still find myself wondering if maybe I'm confused; maybe it wasn't him after all. Maybe it's all just been a bad dream.
Through this past week, I have found myself deeply moved by the whole Blue Dragon family - the staff and kids alike. At times when I have had no solace to offer, no strength to share, I have felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up to see one of my team or one of our older kids, also with tears in their eyes, reaching out to support me. It's not supposed to be like this; I'm supposed to be the strong one leading Blue Dragon through a difficult time.
What a beautiful family I have, that they are strong for me when I am the weak one.
Over the weekend I had to move house, and found myself once again surrounded by my team, ready to pitch in without me even asking. People turned up to carry boxes and lift furniture - I have no idea what I would have done if they hadn't shown up. I don't even know who paid the truck that carried my stuff.
Against the backdrop of my own grief this past week, the extraordinary compassion of those around me has carried me through.
I know I need to be strong again, and I will. But I will never forget those who have helped me through. Thank you to all of you.