Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bought by a trafficker - but now at school

Anybody who has traveled to Ho Chi Minh City and hung out in Pham Ngo Lao district in the past year or two has probably seen Ngoc - he's been working the streets selling flowers, from 4pm to 3am every night.

Ngoc was 'bought' by a child trafficker for 2 million Dong - that's about $120USD. He's 13 now, but was 12 when his family made the very difficult decision to let their eldest son go.

Usually, the traffickers pay much less, but Ngoc is bright and personable, and has an angelic face that's perfect for making some money out of toursists! Ngoc's parents have never been to school and live in a tin shack on a beach. Every time a storm comes up, their shack collapses, and they rebuild. It's a tough existence. And Ngoc' family of five earns less than $20USD a month.... My guess is that the trafficker's offer must have been hard to resist.

Blue Dragon heard about Ngoc's predicament and helped him to escape the trafficker, who had started acting violently against the kids who were working for him. So now, for the first time in his life, Ngoc is studying at school - he's in Grade 1 - and is doing SUPER WELL at the end of his first 2 weeks of classes.

Outside of school, he's joining in art classes and learning some English, as well as having time out as a normal kid (and just occasionally getting into the odd bit of mischief). But what a spirit this kid has! To meet him, you'd never guess the hardship he's been through. I have the feeling he's going to do just fine...

Must say a big THANK YOU to the staff and students of UWC (United World College) in Singapore. They've sent over $1000 SGD to pay for everything that Ngoc needs - medical, clothes, school, and living expenses.

This is the start of a very big change in Ngoc's life. I'll make sure to post news of his progress in coming months.

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