Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dragon House

Monday was the day we've been building up to for the past 2 years: the opening of a new centre for Hanoi's street kids.


The Blue Dragon team is exhausted but running on adrenaline - and we still have plenty of that!

Our new centre has opened its doors, even though the builders haven't quite finished their work. I don't want to post a photo of the front of the building just yet, because there is still construction work being done, but this time next week we'll be fully ready to go.

Regardless, our first day was wonderful. Finally the kids have a huge space to play, with endless sunlight streaming through the windows. Because of construction work, we decided to not open up the ground-floor drop-in centre, but instead create a temporary centre on the second floor.

The kids loved it; even though it's temporary, it was still more spacious than the centre we've occupied for the past 5 years! The sense of open space led the kids to spread out, find spaces with their friends and relax. 

Several of the older kids, who now live independently and have their owns jobs (and, in some cases, their own businesses!) came along to visit or help. It was lovely to see the older guys hanging out with the younger kids. 

Lunch was great, even though the kitchen is also not quite ready to use. We ordered in 'bun cha' and had a feast - nobody went hungry, that's for sure! 

So the centre needs a few finishing touches.... like doors, windows, and gates. But we're nearly there!

And after much discussion and deliberation, we're proud to announce the name for our new centre:

Dragon House.

The various Blue Dragon centres over the years invariably end up being named after the house number: 66, 32, 18, 51... It sounds a bit too much like we've been playing bingo! So this time, the house has a name.

We're honoured to be borrowing this name from author John Shors, who published a novel named Dragon House back in 2009. John and I have been great friends since then; John used the book to raise support for our work in Vietnam, and even though the story is completely fictional, I always recommend Dragon House to anybody who wants to know what life is really like for Vietnamese street kids.

So life is now imitating art, and the Blue Dragon kids have a centre that shares a name with John's novel.

Dragon House is already an awesome place. In coming weeks, as we add the finishing touches and really make it our home, it's going to be even more amazing.

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