Thursday, September 25, 2008


It's never the end of the story.

Every time Blue Dragon meets with great success, we know that the next day may well be brim full of difficulty and failure. And on those terrible down days, when everything goes wrong, we know that the next day may be the best we've ever had.

So it goes with looking after 800 boys and girls living in extreme poverty.

Of those 800, only about 60 live in Blue Dragon homes - the vast majority live with families or relatives, or in their community. But those 60 living with us certainly face the biggest challenges of all the Blue Dragon kids. These are the children and teens who cannot fall back on their own families, for any number of reasons. Some have no families at all; many are from families torn apart by alcohol or violence or drugs.

And as you can imagine, kids who have grown up in such hardship can't just leave their baggage at the door when they enter Blue Dragon's homes. Making the transition to a stable, caring environment isn't easy at all.

Many of our kids, although living away from families, are strongly affected by what happens back in their own homes. One of our teenagers, "Hieu," is wrestling right now with a powerful dilemma: he's been saving up money with the dream of opening his own business, but last week one of his brothers landed in huge trouble with the law and is facing the choice between paying a massive fine, or going to prison for some years.

The trouble is entirely of his own making and the police have dealt with him very fairly; but now the onus is on Hieu to save the whole family by sacrificing his dream of having his own shop. Hieu is one kid who has moved his way up through determination and hard work; he was a shoeshine boy when I first met and he's spent the last 2 years studying, training, and working part time. I dread the thought that Hieu's dreams are about to take such a blow.

For other kids in our homes, the allure of the streets never seems to fade. While most give up life on the streets and never look back, others are constantly tempted to once again join the gangs, hang out in the night markets, and make some quick money to buy a new mobile phone or bicycle. "Just this one more time," they tell themselves, "and then never again."

Earlier this week a group of kids who have been torn between having a home and tasting the freedom of the streets were sleeping on Long Bien bridge, which crosses the Red River and is home to many young people living rough. One 17 year old boy, "Vu", was sleeping too close to the edge of the bridge; he rolled over in his sleep, and dropped over the side. When the others woke, they saw their friend sprawled on the ground 30 metres below. Vu is in hospital now, with two broken legs and a host of other injuries - but he'll make it through.

For both Vu and Hieu, tomorrow will be a new day with new opportunities and also new challenges. They can fight their circumstances and try to make a change; or they can roll with the waves and accept whatever happens as their "destiny." That choice, at least, is theirs.

But whatever choice they make, their stories will go on. No matter how far they fall, there's always a way back up. It's never, ever, the end of the story.


1 comment:

Hayley said...

I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful work that Blue Dragon is doing. My family adopted and brought home our daughter last September from Vietnam. We stayed in Hanoi for 18 days and our hearts were changed by seeing the poverty and hopelesses on the faces there. Vietnam is never far from our thoughts and prayers and I am so thankful to have found your blog.