Sunday, May 30, 2010

Busy times

The last 2 weeks have been busy times at Blue Dragon - I've hardly had a chance to update the blog.

Last week I spent 4 days in Hue, visiting families in our anti-trafficking program. We've rescued about 60 children who were trafficked from Hue to garment factories in Ho Chi Minh City, and we're in the early stages of preparing another trip. My trip, though, was mostly to see how our work there is progressing.

Once kids have been freed from the factories and returned home, Blue Dragon's work involves getting them back to school; building homes if needed; and helping parents learn to become self sufficient.

Many of the 'solutions' to child trafficking are in simple, practical approaches. For the past 6 months we've been running a pilot project teaching aquaculture to some parents to help them improve their incomes. It's been a great success, so now we're getting ready to extend it to 10 more families. In another village, we've identified that the poorest families are struggling because their access to the main road is limited, meaning they have to travel much further than everybody else to get to the markets to sell their produce. So we're hatching a plan to build a new road to link their village to the highway.

We've never built a road before, but if that's what they need then that's what we'll do.

Back to the north of Vietnam, and last weekend we held the Closing Ceremony of our Stay In School program. We gathered about 300 students together, from Grades 5 to 12, to celebrate their completion of another school year. These are kids who are from the poorest families in their district, and without some outside help are pretty unlikely to stay in school.

This year, 35 students in our program have completed Grade 12. That's 35 kids who otherwise would be working in factories and shops now, despite their academic ability.

Over the past week a lot of my attention has been taken with matters at our Hanoi HQ. We've started our first ever fundraising appeal, and I believe we're almost half way now to our goal of $30,000. Blue Dragon has also said farewell to some staff who are moving on from us - never a happy time.

To top it all off I've been struck down with a recurring muscle problem in my shoulder, but thankfully was still able to give a speech to the Hanoi International School Year 12 graduation ceremony.

So, a busy couple of weeks, but some great progress with our work. Summer holidays are starting now, which means our drop-in centre is about to get a whole lot busier.

More to come soon!