Friday, April 19, 2013

100 missed calls

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, Blue Dragon staff worked with the Vietnamese police to raid 4 garment factories, all of which are now closed; release 14 children aged 10-16 who were enslaved there; and arrest the 3 factory owners, whose businesses are now closed for good.

Nine of those children are already home with their families. The other 5 begin their journey today and will arrive on Saturday morning. 

People often ask me about the families of the trafficked children. Did they sell their kids to make a quick dollar? Do they care what happens to their children?

So far Blue Dragon has rescued 292 children. In only one case has there been a parent who 'sold' a child knowing the dangers her son would face. In the other 290 cases, the parents honestly thought that their children were being taken for training or schooling; or, in some situations, the parents had no idea where the kids had gone and were desperate to find them.

Yesterday one small detail emerged of a 16 year old girl from northern Dien Bien province who had been trafficked to Ho Chi Minh City. Before leaving home, the girl's family made sure she had a mobile phone so they could stay in contact; but as soon as the girl was away from her family, the trafficker took it away. She was in the factory for some months, and not allowed to ring or speak to her family at all.

When Blue Dragon found her, the first thing the girl wanted to do was talk to her mother. The police ordered the factory owner to return her telephone, and turning it on a message came up on the screen:

100 missed calls

That's how worried her family was. They called 100 times; and I suspect that they called even more, but the phone's memory only allowed for it to recall the last 100.

100 missed calls. This is one family that will be very happy to get back together.

... Just a note to say that I originally published this stating that we had found and released 13 children; the actual number was 14. The last child was a girl who had been hidden by the trafficker when he knew we were coming, but the police forced him to 'hand her over'. 

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