Sunday, June 03, 2012

The way

Over the years, Blue Dragon has tried many approaches to helping kids in need here in Vietnam. We've met them on the streets; built houses for their families; rescued them out of factories and brothels; paid their school fees... 

And now we've built a road. 

This is a very simple road - as far as roads go - connecting a village in Loc Tri district of Hue province to the nearest highway. 

Without it, kids had to travel extra kilometers along the busy highway to get to school. Parents were cut off from the markets, so their opportunity to sell the fish that they raise was very limited. And when child traffickers came to the town, the police were too far away to respond quickly. 

This road changes all of that. The village is now much closer to town, and much easier for the police and local government to respond quickly when called. Within the next year, we hope that there will be a new fish market based in this village too. 

Friday's "Opening Ceremony" was a terrific event. The whole village turned out to watch the dragon dancing and listen to the official speeches. 

It was an event the whole town will remember - and benefit from for many years to come.

From the opening ceremony of the road, I traveled north to Thanh Hoa province for a much more sombre occasion the following morning: the 100th day anniversary of the death of Le Dinh Nghia.

In Vietnamese culture, the 100th day marks the departure of the person's spirit from the earth: Nghia has made his final journey to Heaven.

Nghia's funeral, back in February, was an overwhelming day. Hundreds of people of all ages walked with his coffin from his family home along the road to the cemetery where he is now laid to rest. Along the way was an outpouring of emotion, and the procession was led by a band of funeral musicians. People cried openly, and sometimes loudly, imploring Nghia to wake up and come back home.

Saturday's ceremony was much simpler, much quieter. Family members and a few close friends gathered by Nghia's graveside, lit some incense, then returned home for a humble meal. This time there was no music, no crowds, just a handful of loved ones still broken by the loss of one of our world's most beautiful young people.

Nghia's ceremony was a quiet one, but no less important and touching.

Have a safe journey, Nghia. You are not forgotten here.