Saturday, June 09, 2012

The scene of the crime

This has been a busy week for Blue Dragon's fight against human trafficking. And we're happy with the progress that we've seen.

First, the traffickers involved in kidnapping 2 teen girls last year and selling them to Chinese brothels - as I wrote about here last August - had their day in court on Thursday. The result: 10 years for the leader, and 9 years for the assistants. The victims were awarded some substantial compensation money, which will be a great help for their futures.

One of those girls is now in Hanoi studying at high school. She chose not to attend the court, but her family was there, and she was elated with the news that the men and women who tried to destroy her life will be locked away from society for a long time to come.

Two of the traffickers facing the judges...

Earlier in the week, our team became involved in a new case of ethnic minority children being trafficked from the northern province of Dien Bien. This is an area where Blue Dragon started working late in 2011, and I will write some more about it in coming days. 

In this case, the local police believed that 3 children had been lured away from their families by traffickers recruiting workers for garment factories. Blue Dragon staff found 3 more families missing children, bringing the total to 6; but there's a chance there may be more. The next step is to head to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to look for the kids in factories; that will happen soon. 

And in advance of this upcoming rescue trip, I had to head to Saigon on some other business. Accompanying me was Ngoc, the very first person we rescued from a trafficker. He has a great job now, and has earned the status of being the only Vietnamese person in Blue Dragon who is taller than me! 

Ngoc and I headed down to the tourist area of the city, which is where I first met him back in late 2005. We had spoken in advance about how he would feel about doing this; what feelings would this create in him? Was he worried or anxious about going back to the place where he was once the victim? 

But Ngoc really wanted to do this, and once he was out visiting the streets which he once walked all night, he transformed into a social worker. He was chatting to street kids, quizzing women selling trinkets by the side of the road, and approaching other street workers he recognised from 7 years ago. I just stood back and watched, so proud of this incredible young man. 

He may have been a victim once, but he is no more. And that's what I hope I can say of all of the trafficked young people Blue Dragon reaches. 

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