Monday was a day of great hope coupled with great uncertainty. I wrote on Monday evening about the challenges being faced by 3 kids here at Blue Dragon:
- a 13 year old girl, "Huong," who has been rescued from a forced marriage in China but whose mother might have been involved in her trafficking;
- a 14 year old boy, "Hai," struggling to break free from the psychological chains keeping him involved in selling sex on the streets of Hanoi;
- and a 16 year old boy, "Tong," who has made a huge effort in recent months to leave the street life behind, and now faces the new challenge of starting in a work experience placement.
So how has the week unfolded?
None of these stories have finished. None will be finished for a long time yet. But the week is finishing with more reason for hope than we started with.
- Huong and her mother have been reunited; a beautifully emotional meeting, free from fear and guilt. It does seem that Huong's mother had some knowledge of her daughter's trafficking, but her lack of education (she's illiterate) and evidence of duress indicate that she was a victim of deception; it now looks like she had no idea what was actually happening with her daughter other than that she was going to work for someone. Today, there is hope that mother and daughter really can be together again.
- Hai spent the week going back and forth; he is a tormented and confused boy, who wants to escape but doesn't know how. At times throughout the week, it seemed that there was nothing we could do to help him. His decision was made. He stopped communicating. Finally, when I feared there was no possibility of turning this situation around, Hai turned up at a Blue Dragon safe house... and had the first proper meal and sleep he's had in months. Maybe, maybe, he'll be back for a second night.
- Tong's work placement has had a rocky start, but through no fault of his own. He fell ill early in the week, and did make a start in the restaurant but had to take some time off. The good news is that he's eager to get back as soon as possible.
No conclusions here. No neat endings. Tomorrow will be another day for success and for failure. But today the sun sets with renewed hope for these 3 kids, whose struggle for life might never be noticed on a world stage, but who deserve a world of love and support.
Tomorrow, the story continues.