Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's out

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Thursday, March 15, 2012


The past weeks have been hard on the Blue Dragon team. Sorry for the silence, both on the blog and on Facebook, but it's difficult to 'get back to normal' while everyone is still grieving.

We haven't been sitting about listlessly, though. We still have more than 1300 kids in our care who need us for support, and many of them have also been affected by Nghia's death.

Over the years, Nghia had lent a hand to many other young disadvantaged people, and recently he was looking out for his older brothers and a group of boys who were unemployed. These kids are all devastated, and Blue Dragon has had to step up to help them through these weeks.

More than a month ago, I wrote about our sadness at one of the kids from our Shelter being detained to a Reform School for 2 years. We believe he has a case for being released, and are still working on that, although the signs are all bad so far.

A lot of effort is also going in to our search for a new centre. Some time during this year, Blue Dragon needs to move out of its current building, which means our drop-in centre, classrooms, lunch room, and office all need to relocate. This is a major undertaking, and finding a new building (or land) which can fit us all in is taking a long time. Much of my own time over the past 2 weeks has been out looking at buildings - I feel like I know enough to become a real estate agent now. But it's been draining, and I look forward to having some good news about our plans.

The strength of our kids and staff has kept Blue Dragon going through these tough times. Now, just as Nghia would want, we must all be strong for the kids who need us.

And a quick note of thanks once again to all who have been in contact with messages of support. These have been very much appreciated.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

A death in the family

The news on Friday February 24 was a massive blow. One of our boys, 20 year old Nghia, was killed in a hit-and-run near his home in the countryside.

Nghia had been on his way home to collect some paperwork that he needed to open his second mobile phone shop in Hanoi. This is a young guy who had overcome major difficulties in life to become a real 'success story'. And here at Blue Dragon, he was greatly loved. The 100 or so people who packed into our drop-in centre the following Monday were a testament to that.

I was particularly close to Nghia; I was the person who first met him on the streets and helped him get back to his family. Over the years, we had a great friendship and could call on each other for anything. Right at the start of January, Nghia walked into our office wearing a jacket that was far too big for him. When I commented on what a nice jacket it was, he took it off and gave it to me. It fitted perfectly, so he insisted I keep it. Talk about "giving me the shirt off his back." That was typical Nghia. Everyone who knows him has a similar story.

Losing him so suddenly and so unexpectedly has been tough. Really tough. I still find myself wondering if maybe I'm confused; maybe it wasn't him after all. Maybe it's all just been a bad dream.

Through this past week, I have found myself deeply moved by the whole Blue Dragon family - the staff and kids alike. At times when I have had no solace to offer, no strength to share, I have felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up to see one of my team or one of our older kids, also with tears in their eyes, reaching out to support me. It's not supposed to be like this; I'm supposed to be the strong one leading Blue Dragon through a difficult time.

What a beautiful family I have, that they are strong for me when I am the weak one.

Over the weekend I had to move house, and found myself once again surrounded by my team, ready to pitch in without me even asking. People turned up to carry boxes and lift furniture - I have no idea what I would have done if they hadn't shown up. I don't even know who paid the truck that carried my stuff.

Against the backdrop of my own grief this past week, the extraordinary compassion of those around me has carried me through.

I know I need to be strong again, and I will. But I will never forget those who have helped me through. Thank you to all of you.