Saturday, July 25, 2009

Son of a gold miner

Blue Dragon has recently been joined by a new teenage boy, Huy, whose life is off to a pretty rotten start.

Huy is aged about 15, and he was orphaned by HIV a couple of years ago. His story sounds extraordinary, but the circumstances that lead to the death of his parents aren't so unusual.

About 5 years back, his father was taken to work in a gold mine. I say "taken," although I am not sure of the exact circumstances - it's unclear if he chose to go to the mine, or he was somehow tricked or abducted.

Once there, though, the mining "company" doesn't have an employment contract; instead, they have heroin. They shoot heroin up the arms of all the miners, to get them hooked so that they cannot escape. The mines are isolated, and the workers have no money, so once they are addicted they are essentially prisoners, but the shackles are white powder injected through a needle.

And in the interest of saving money, there's just one needle. Everyone shares.

Eventually, every miner succumbs to HIV. They are then sent away - fired, in essence, and sent home. With no idea of why they are so ill, and no knowledge of HIV or safe sex, they slowly die at home and chances are they will pass the infection on to their wife.

So it was with Huy's family. First his father died, and then his mother.

And then, the village gossip begins.

As other families start talking and speculating, the taunting starts - on the streets, and then at school.

For Huy, the discrimination at school lead him to drop out. He was not only being teased, but also set apart from his classmates and left out of games and sports.

So Huy has found his way to Blue Dragon, and is enjoying the new freedom he has. He'll be starting at school soon, and this time nobody will know about his past.

There's no way we can make up for all that has happened, but at least Huy can have a new chance to make something of his life.

And meantime, I am left wondering... how many more families have been devastated by this barbaric practice? How many more orphans are out there because of this awful system of gold mining?



Unknown said...

Hey there Michael,
I knew this was happening in Burma, but had no idea that it was going on in Vietnam as well. Shocking!

Luke Burns said...

One has to wonder where the gold is going. Do people know that their jewelry comes at a greater price than the one put up in the shop window?

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