Saturday, April 27, 2013


Thursday night: I accompany the Blue Dragon Outreach team on the streets of Hanoi from 9pm looking for some particularly young runaway children we have heard about. We're aware that children new to the streets are being targeted for sexual exploitation so we are in a race to find the boys and get them to safety. We find them but they have already been approached by strangers and don't know who to trust. All we can do is advise them on how to find safe accommodation, and how to avoid danger.

Friday night: The team is back on the streets from 8pm, talking to young teenagers who have been coming to the Blue Dragon centre by day, but hanging out on the streets by night. One boy rings with an emergency - he's seen some boys being approached by men he's seen before, and is afraid for them. We don't finish until 2am but are able to get the kids to safety. One of the Blue Dragon boys is particularly brave in looking out for his mates.

Saturday morning: The Outreach leader, Blue Dragon's lawyer and I meet to discuss some of the issues we've been seeing in relation to the street boys courting such risk and facing the dangers that they do.

Saturday afternoon: A call comes through that the police have arrested a member of a child trafficking ring which has been kidnapping girls and selling them to China. The trafficker has confessed to selling a girl who may be either 13 or 14 years old; the police want to know if Blue Dragon might be able to assist with the repatriation of the girl.

We don't have a clear picture yet of where the girl is or what is needed, but there's a 12 hour drive to get to the border so Blue Dragon's lawyer is on the next available bus. I shoot off an email to my great friend Robert at Giving It Back To Kids to say "Hey we've already committed ourselves - can you help pay for this!?" and Robert replies that yes, he'll help out. GIBTK and Blue Dragon have only recently formed an (as yet) informal partnership to share resources on trafficking cases, and this will be our second such case together. 

Saturday night: So far, peace and quiet!

Over the years, Blue Dragon has evolved and adapted to Vietnam's rapidly changing economy and society. From time to time we have to take stock of where we are and make sure it's where we need to be. We're usually just-about-right but sometimes have to adjust to make sure we're doing what's needed most.

This year the emerging theme is: Crisis. We're receiving more calls from trafficked children and their families. We're seeing kids on the street in far more danger than ever before. The problems we face are growing more complex, and they seem to be changing/developing more quickly than before.

One of Blue Dragon's strengths is that we can adapt quickly to these changes, and we can respond even more quickly to calls for help. Our challenge is to not only be responsive, but to make an impact on the broader issues to reduce the incidence of crisis.

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