Friday, November 10, 2006

Rich children good, poor children baaaaad

This is not a happy post.

To be specific, this is an angry, angry post.

If I was to give this blog a newspaper headline, it would be: "Proud, wealthy neighbours succeed in making small children cry - Whole street celebrates victory".

The story goes like this:

A 12 year old orphan, who lives in a house we rent, was playing on the street in the evening, as do all of the children who live in Hanoi. He kicked a plastic ball, which totally by accident hit a 15 year old girl who was carrying a bowl. The girl, a servant/slave of one of the wealthy smugglers on the street, dropped the bowl and, in doing so, cut her hand quite badly.

In response, every household on the street rushed out, screaming abuse - not only at the terrified orphan, but at every Blue Dragon child, staff member, and poor person who might have a distant association with us.

Their argument: These children have no families. Nobody wants them. We don't want them. We hate them. They all take drugs, steal, cheat, lie, and they probably all, that's right ALL, were involved in the conspiracy to shoot JFK.

Two dozen screaming, hysterical adults hurling abuse at an orphan who kicked a ball in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There were some stunning hypocricies. One woman, who demanded that we leave the street and never come back, has been asking us to help find her 19 year old son a job - and we have been helping! Even in the days after this mass outbreak of disgusting hysteria, she has STILL been asking when we will take her son for an interview.

These children are bad, they screamed. And what they didn't scream, but certainly meant, was: They are bad, and we are good. We are good because we are rich.

In talking to the kids a few hours after this incident, I asked them why they thought the local community had said what they did. One of these 'horrible, unwanted' children said to me: "They were angry. People say things they don't mean when they are angry."

I am sure that nobody else in the community could possibly have the sense, empathy, and forgiving nature of that child. So... who is better than who?

The next day, the servant's boss came to demand money, of course, and after that everyone and everything was back to normal. Just as though nothing had happened.

But our kids remember. And not only our kids, but also all of the poor families on our street who heard those words screamed maniacally - they are now totally clear on what the community thinks of them.

Last night, one of our youngest boys cried uncontrollably for over an hour. He misses his mother, he said. We didn't ask, but we know what he was thinking: Am I really unwanted? Does everybody really hate me so much?

The greatest irony of all is that the girl who was injured has not been given even a day off work. Her masters were furious that somebody in their household was injured - but apparently this is not out of concern for her well being. It seems that their rage stems from the fact that an orphan dared to damage their property. One of my staff went to see the girl today with some Betadine to try to stop an infection.

Her masters don't want to waste any money on medicine - after all, she's just poor trash from the countryside herself.


Anonymous said...

The neighborhood there is quite bad, but please don't think that every Vietnamese is that bad. For some people, being constantly stressed to earn a living turns them into bad people who never care about others. I feel sorry for the poor kids, can't imagine there's such bad neighborhood right here in Hanoi. You are doing the right thing, keep up working and I believe you will receive more and more help from kind Vietnamese everywhere.

Anonymous said...

I often read blogs on Blue Dragon but, and I just want to say that this one is the saddest. Poor our Blue Dragon children. All they need is love and respectation( at least a little respectation), I think. But, what had happened is too means, cruel. I feel really, really bad

Mosher said...

I know the guy who organised the JFK shooting and he tells me that there were definitely no Vietnamese involved. However, he clammed up when I started asking about Watergate.

Seriously, people really need to be ignored at times but that's so easy to say with a lifetime's experience. These things do hit children harder than adults, but on the other hand never underestimate a child's ability to bounce back. You of all people will have seen this in action so many times.

Hope to see you all again soon :)

Anonymous said...

OMG! I've got steaming coming out of my ears now reading this entry! And I know it was 2 years ago. But man, this is just so ridiculous!! I hate snobbish, selfish, ignorant people. And yet they're everywhere! :(