Monday, July 17, 2006

Where am I?

It’s been a while since I last blogged – but no, I haven’t been abducted by aliens (would you be surprised if I was?)

In fact, I’ve been on holidays in beautiful Hoian. I kept this off the blog until now, because last time I was away for an extended period, somebody took the opportunity to break into my office and steal the main Blue Dragon computer. We got it back, but it took a flurry of emails between Sydney, Sai Gon and Ha Noi; and my lead Social Worker had to pretend that he isn’t Vietnamese. Considering how much work that took, I thought I’d just shut up about being out of town this time. (And I really don’t think that Tung wanted to go through the ‘me no speak Vietnamese’ routine again).

So – Hoian. Fantastic beaches, the best food in Vietnam, and friendly people everywhere.

I’ve been hanging out at the Blue Dragon restaurant most of the time. This isn’t my restaurant, but a privately owned business run by some Vietnamese friends of mine. I helped them get started, and they help Blue Dragon by donating part of their profit every month. It’s a perfect arrangement.

As usual, I haven’t been able to stay away from work completely. Today while I was at Ha My beach, I got talking to some staff who are building a new resort right on the beach. The staff, Dung and Anh, were 15 and 13 years old respectively, and work 11 hours a day, 7 days per week, in return for less than $30US per month.

Naturally, I expect that this is because the owners of the resort are:

a) Very poor people, who have somehow scraped together a few million dollars to develop this new complex - or

b) Planning to make this a very inexpensive resort - $5 per night, children stay for free! – or

c) Greedy bastards who don’t mind exploiting children.

Take your pick. And where’s John Pilger when you need him?

This is not an unusual practice, though. My friend who owns the Blue Dragon restaurant once worked for Victoria Resort, where he too earned about $30 per month. I wonder if the people staying at these places realise how little the staff are paid?


Anonymous said...

it's alice great to hear bout u getting time off BDCF. u need some rest. so how long did u spend in Hoian for?
is everyone ok over there?
well first day back to school 2moro for term three, dont wanna have bags underneath my eyes lol bye

MollyC said...

A few months ago, I went to a "Vietnamese Human Trafficking Awareness" charity dinner. These "Vietnamese Community" events aren't my cup of tea, but it was organized by the Vietnamese Student's Organization ran by an alma-mater and another guy I very briefly dated. Long story short, I attended.

Seeing as I am a self-absorbed, capitalist, materialistic bitch, I really wish I never attended, because the facts presented to me left me devastated.

Apparently, as I am sure you know, on any given weekend, the availability of prostitutes ages 6 - 10 are more-than-readily available in brothels all over Vietnam and Cambodia. Talk about "prete-a-porter".

Also- that human trafficking in Vietnam is notorious and almost unstoppable.

Now, there are huge initiatives to save woman and children sent to Taiwan, Korea, Japan, etc. However, I think the crux of this entire "anti-trafficking" stoppage should be to EDUCATE the Vietnamese public against selling their children and to ENCOURAGE mothers like the righteous fisherman's wife.

Good going Blue Dragon! let me know how I can get involved.