Wednesday, October 31, 2007


A significant part of Blue Dragon's work involves advocacy: sticking up for kids when they get into trouble. Some days, our advocacy work is urgent and pressing.

On Monday afternoon I recieved a phone call from one of our boys, Nghia, who I originally met as a shoeshine boy in Saigon. Nghia studies at a local school in Hanoi now, and although his grades aren't brilliant he does stand out among the Blue Dragon kids for his happy disposition and his willingness to help anyone in need. He's a great kid.

But on Monday, he was in trouble. Four boys from school had ganged up on him and attacked; two of them had knives. As soon as school was out, the four guys got together, and when Nghia realised what was happening, the only thing he could do was run for his life. He ran through the streets, and at one point slipped in some mud but was able to get back up and keep running. Nobody helped, of course: nobody ever helps in Hanoi. This kid was on his own.

When he finally got away, he called me to come and help him get home safely. Van, Blue Dragon's lawyer, went over too. Nghia was covered in dirt, his clothes were ruined, and he was pretty upset - as you can imagine.

The next morning, Van and I took Nghia back to the school to speak to the principal. She was kind and sympathetic, and organised a meeting in the afternoon with the 4 bullies and their parents. Van and Nghia attended - I figured it would be better if the foreigner stayed out of it!

After spending some time denying everything, the 4 boys confessed to what they had done. Their parents and their teachers were furious with them, and soon they were crying and apologising. (I really regret not bring there for that).

From the principal, the conclusion was clear: the boys were to be expelled immediately, and the matter was to be referred to the police.

Then Nghia spoke up. Yes, he was angry with them, and they deserved punishment. But he asked the principal to give them another chance. Their families would punish them enough, he reasoned; no need to expel them and call the police.

Despite the terror of the previous day, Nghia forgave the bullies, and so saved their skin. They must still pay for his new school clothes, and the school may still impose some punishment for what they did. But when they return to school today, they go back knowing that they are there only because of the extraordinary graciousness of the boy they tried to kill.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was a great story about forgiveness, and a good example of the butterfly effect. Blue Dragon helps Nghia go back to school, who then shows compassion for fellow students. Who knows how this is going to turn out, but I can only imagine good things for Nghia. Good job on his part, he is growing into a wonderful person. And thanks to Blue Dragon for making the effort to help these kids get back into school.