After making the world wait for this final blog (I forgot the password to log in - seriously...), here it is. The end of my 10 year blog. (And yes, I know that after 10 years of blogging I should be able to remember the password).
At the time I started blogging, Blue Dragon was mostly working with kids on the streets of Hanoi. We still do so, but by the end of 2005 we were starting to also get involved with kids who had been trafficked.
The initial issue that we faced was boys and girls trafficked within Vietnam to work on the streets as flower sellers. We brought those trafficking rings to a halt fairly quickly but found that children were also being trafficked into garment sweatshops. This is still a problem today, but on a much smaller scale and I am confident that we are close to seeing the end of child trafficking into garment factories in Vietnam. There are just a few people holding out, a few small business owners who think it's worth the risk, but their time really is limited now. When we know of any factory with child slaves, we will be there with the police to shut them down.
This aspect of our work then evolved into rescuing girls and young women who have been trafficked into China. I never thought we would do that; in fact, after our first rescue in 2007, we vowed to never do it again. But we've now rescued about 150 girls and women who have been trafficked from Vienam into brothels and forced marriages in China. The rescues are complicated and sometimes dangerous, but massively rewarding and impactful. Not only is a woman set free, but traffickers are arrested and families reunited. They really are life-changing operations.
As a charity dealing with a few very different social issues, it can be difficult to sum up all that we do. A look through our Facebook and Twitter accounts tells you that we sometimes have international rescues, art classes for kids with disabilities, self-help groups for parents, and house building projects all happening at the same time. This is quite different to the 'single issue' charities which might deal exclusively with, say, water projects or disability advocacy.
So what's the thread pulling all this together?
The issues may seem very different, but all that we do is aimed at getting kids out of crisis, and then providing the long-term after-care that they need. I am passionate about this. This is not just about issues: this is about people.
Our world has more problems than anyone can count, and we tend to look to politics or the economy or the media to either place the blame or find a solution. They all may have a part, but in the end people are both the problem and the solution. Do we want a better world? Then we need to be better people, and get alongside other people to make the change.
In the 12 or so years that Blue Dragon has been working, we've met thousands of kids and impacted thousands more. Some of those kids have had a life changing experience with us: there are teens we have met locked into brothels, or trapped within pedophile rings, or living with gangs on the street, but who are now free and living a great life. There are also those we have met but who have drifted away or chosen to leave. I can't say we have been successful with everyone, but I can say that we have tried our best every time.
The blog is ending, but Blue Dragon is not! Keep following the website and social media; and if in future the inspiration to write again returns, I will open a new blog for sure. Thank you to those who have taken the time to make contact and leave comments; let's keep working together for the street kids of Vietnam,