Tuesday, August 03, 2010

From street kid to IT guy

In July 2004, I met a teenage boy shining shoes on the streets of Hanoi.
Linh was a bright kid, and very shy. It took some time to learn how he had come to be on the streets, but eventually he revealed that he had run away because of a dispute with his mother.
Linh lived in the countryside with his mother and a younger sister. They were extremely poor, and often didn't have enough money to eat breakfast. So one day, frustrated and not able to face the difficulties of his life, Linh left home and headed to Hanoi.

At the time, Blue Dragon was a very small organisation - we were not even registered with the Vietnamese government - but we had really good outreach into the community and had already started a (tiny!) drop-in centre. So we were able to help Linh with some basic needs, and could give him a place to stay when he needed it.

Linh (in the yellow shirt) at the Blue Dragon centre.
This picture was taken in July 2004. The other kids pictured were
also street kids at the time.

After some weeks with us, Linh was ready to accept our help to return home. Van, who is now Blue Dragon's lawyer (but on leave to study in the US), was a uni student at the time, and volunteered to accompany Linh home. This was Van's first experience of reuniting a runaway with their family, and it was a terrific success. Linh's mother and the entire neighborhood came out to celebrate the return of the boy who they feared was dead!

Once Linh was home, Blue Dragon continued supporting him to study, and to ensure that his family didn't have to worry so much about money. His school results were always good, and from time to time he'd even travel to Hanoi to visit us.

Today, Linh is a student at a private college in Hanoi learning IT. He's in one of the best colleges around, called Aptech, with the course almost entirely in English. We normally couldn't afford to send him to Aptech, but a private donor gave us the money to pay for the course in full, and so Linh has had the opportunity of a lifetime.

Linh with a certificate of excellence from his college (July 2010).

Linh is now entering the last 6 months of the course, and his results have been great so far. He's starting to dream of landing his first job, or maybe studying further overseas.

Such a long way from his days shining shoes to survive in Hanoi!

1 comment:

Saccha said...

It always warms my heart to learn about various organisations doing their share to give back to the community. And even better, it seems that more and more individuals or groups are helping such organisations in meeting their goals. Anyway, thank you for this article. I learned lots and it also helps me realise that I have lots to be thankful for.

You might also be interested in an article I stumbled upon. According to the article, 20th Man Foundation received a generous help from 2 benefactors.

Read the original article here