Friday, August 24, 2007

Don't call me Baby

Before I came to live in Viet Nam, I travelled here several times on holidays as a backpacker. I still look back fondly on those days - carefree travel, coming and going as I pleased...

On my second trip to Viet Nam, I found myself in the central region, in Hoi An town. It was there that I first made friends with a street kid; a 13 year old boy named Nam.

Nam's father had died, and when his mother remarried he was sent out to the streets to earn a living. This is a common story, but Nam was luckier than most. He was met by a man living by the town river - "Big Nam" - who sold pottery on the street. The two Nams took a liking to each other, and soon were living together. Big Nam's wife and children came to see "Baby Nam" as a family member, and he grew up in their home.

Fast forward about 5 years, and Big Nam asked me to help him set up a restaurant in his home. Big Nam had been struggling financially, but had a big heart and I trusted him completely. So the two Nams set up the Blue Dragon restaurant, which is still running today and does really well.
This week, I went back to Hoi An for a very special occasion: Baby Nam's engagement ceremony. The very first street kid I befriended in Viet Nam is also the first former street kid I know to get married.

I think it's time I dropped the "Baby" nickname; Nam may well have a baby of his own before long.
It's so great to see the kids growing up...

Here are some shots of Nam and his fiance, Dao, at the ceremony. The engagement took place at Dao's home, which is pictured at the bottom.