Monday, August 31, 2009

Special delivery

This is a post from Singapore, where I'm staying in a backpacker hostel in Chinatown.

I travel from Hanoi to Singapore every year, but this has been a really special trip: this time I have come with a 'special delivery'.

One of the Blue Dragon kids - I'll call him "Nam" - has been offered a scholarship to study at Chatsworth International School. So I traveled over to bring him to Chatsworth, and today was his first day of study.

This scholarship was announced about a year ago by the school principal, so we've had some time to plan and prepare. Nam was the natural choice to take up the offer: he's bright, studies hard, and is well behaved. And more than that, Nam has already traveled a long way with Blue Dragon.

I first met Nam about 3 years ago, in Ho Chi Minh City, where he'd been trafficked to work on the streets. A small team of us put into action a plan to get him away from the traffickers, and we took him home to his family in central Vietnam. Nam then came to live with us in Hanoi - his family circumstances were pretty difficult and we knew his best chance to go back to school was if he stayed in our residence.

From Ho Chi Minh City, to Hanoi, and now to Singapore.

Seeing Nam off to school this morning brought up a lot of emotions - for both of us. We'd been to orientation at the school on Friday... but how would he cope alone? Would his English be good enough to cope? Would he fit in with the other students?

This afternoon I was back at Chatsworth to pick Nam up. The smile on his face said it all. "Everything was OK," he told me. But it seemed more than OK; somehow, his English had improved in just one day, and Nam stood tall as he explained to me his timetable.

Nam's really going to be OK. He's not just going to survive; he's going to thrive at Chatsworth. This is the chance of a lifetime, and Nam knows it.

How his life has changed in just a few years!

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