Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I haven't been blogging much in the past week as so much has been happening! A big day today - a few runaways were at our centre, and the staff were able to finish the day by taking one back to his family and seeing a very happy (and tearful) reunion. Most satisfying.

I've suddenly realised that Christmas, New Year, and Lunar New Year are all just around the corner - panic time! Lots to do.

...And on a calmer note, this article was on the front page of the Denver Post Lifestyle section today.

Will get back to blogging later this week!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shameless marketing for a good cause

It's Christmas time... and that means gift time!

Blue Dragon has a range of gift cards for sale; click here to have a look.

The cards have been designed by one of the Blue Dragon girls, Hanh, who has just started art college.

Sales of the cards provide practical support to the children we are helping - and you get a beautiful card to send to your friends at Christmas!

Drop Ruth from Blue Dragon an email if you have any questions about how to order: ruth@bdcf.org.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Photos - trafficked kids

As promised, a few more photos of the children we've just taken out of factories to reunite with their families...

This young girl was forced to work on the
floor, up to 17 hours per day cutting out cloth

Here's the whole group we rescued, standing with the
officials from their home towns and a Red Cross representative

First stop - clothes shopping! The kids needed
warm jackets for their return home

One of the smallest kids we rescued, standing with an
official from his village as they left the factory

The kids are all back home now, catching up on sleep and spending time with family and friends. No more long hours slaving away in factories!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Redefining normal

An important part of Blue Dragon's rescue trips to Saigon is having government officials and local journalists accompany us, to keep them involved and active in preventing child trafficking.

Their presence also keeps us safe.

One of the journalists who we worked with last week has written this article, translated into English. (The original, in Vietnamese, is here; as is this follow up article which has not been translated).

The writer of this article has taken the time to interview some traffickers and factory owners. A quote to remember: "It's normal for children to work until midnight."

Apologies that I don't yet have more photos! I'll post them as soon as I get my hands on them...


Thursday, November 12, 2009


Yesterday morning, 7 children from Hue were working up to 18 hours per day in garment factories like this:

Today, those 7 kids, aged 13-15, are on a train heading home. They are with a government official from their home town, and the Blue Dragon lawyer, Van.

Here are photos of 3 of those children, pictured with their bags as they leave the factories.

We have some very happy kids, and some very unhappy traffickers.

More pics to come over the weekend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More shoes

I am in Hoi An today, here to visit the kids and staff of the Hoi An Children's Home. We're going through some changes in the management of the Home, so I am here to help with that and give some encouragement to the staff who are working very hard!

I'm also visiting an old friend - Nam, who I have written about in the past. Nam was the first street kid I ever met in Vietnam, and back in February I wrote here about how he and his wife have opened a shoe shop.

Since then, Nam again approached me to ask if Blue Dragon could lend him the money to open a second branch, closer to the river where far more tourists are likely to shop. He put together a convincing plan, so we organised a small loan and the new shoe shop is now up and running.

It's flood season again, so there aren't very many customers right at the moment, but the shop has already had some good months and Nam is confident about the future. He's working in the new shop, and his wife in the original shop; they've now hired some apprentices to help them.

Nam's initiative and hard work remind me, yet again, why it's so worthwhile helping out street kids in Vietnam.

The original Gold Dragon Shoe Shop is at 495 Cua Dai Street, Hoi An.

The new shop is at 80 Bach Dang Street.

The shop from the outside...

Nam standing proudly in front of his new shop

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Giving and taking

Over the past few days, some very different events have highlighted the contrasting nature of my work in Vietnam.

First, this article came to my attention and the Blue Dragon staff have already made contact with the family of the child involved. The story in brief: yet another child from Hue in central Vietnam has been working like a slave in a garment factory in Ho Chi Minh City, and fallen extremely ill due to being overworked and undernourished.

The boy is back home now with his family; Blue Dragon is paying for him to undergo some tests at the provincial hospital. Meantime, some questions need to be answered. Why was the factory owner able to do this to a child? And will he be allowed to get away with it, or will he be prosecuted for this?

In contrast to an unscrupulous factory owner making money by exploiting children, one of the Blue Dragon kids in Hanoi has made a most touching gesture. In my previous blog entry, I wrote about Hanh, in her first year of art university and already exhibiting her art work. The gallery paid her for her involvement in the exhibition, which was truly exciting - her first ever substantial income! So what did she do? The following morning, she called to say that she wanted to donate 20% of her payment to help disadvantaged kids.

This is the largest sum of money that Hanh has ever made, and her instant reaction was to give it back to needy children. Hanh has every right to keep this money for herself - she needs it! She earned it! - but she has the moral compass to think of others.

Now, if only we could get the garment industry to start thinking like Hanh...


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Drama and violence

Some exciting news from two of the Blue Dragon girls today!

One of our kids who has recently graduated from Year 12, Quyen, has just been accepted into a drama school here in Hanoi. This has been her dream for many years - and it's all thanks to her hard work and perseverance that she's made it. It's a 3 month course, and Quyen started on Monday. (That's a pic of Quyen below).

Meantime, another of our girls, Hanh, has been in art school just a few weeks and she's already been invited to participate in an exhibition. Many Blue Dragon supporters know of Hanh's work - the gift cards which we sell at Christmas each year are designed by her, and her artwork has appeared on our website and in other places around town. But this is her first public exhibition, and a major step forward for her!

The exhibition opens tonight at Hanoi Future Art - more info on it is right here. The theme is Violence (Bao Luc in Vietnamese), and Hanh's work will be appearing alongside works by both Vietnamese and international artists. If you're in Hanoi - get down there and see!