Sunday, May 25, 2014

It's possible

This has been a great month at Blue Dragon.

We've rescued 4 children from sweatshops - 2 girls and 2 boys, all 13 years old.

We've assisted 2 girls aged 16 who had been trafficked from Vietnam to China, held against their will for 10 days, and were to be sold to a brothel. They escaped by jumping out of a 3rd story window.

We've reunited 5 homeless teens with their families. These are all boys who had run away from home for a variety of reasons, and were sleeping rough in Hanoi.

And the month isn't yet over: we're still looking for more kids who have been trafficked, and have met more homeless teens who are in need of help.

For the Blue Dragon team in Vietnam, it can often seem like we just deal with one problem after another... and the problems keep coming.

But there is such tremendous hope that things can get better, lives can change. There will always be somebody else in need of help, but we will never be powerless to help them.

As long as we can see that change is possible, we'll keep on working. 

Monday, May 19, 2014


Over the weekend, Blue Dragon's rescue team went in search of children trafficked from the central province of Hue to the garment factories of Ho Chi Minh City.

We're looking for more than 20 kids in total, and so far have found 4. We'll get them home today, and continue the investigation to find the others in coming weeks.

Of the 4 children, 2 were girls and 2 were boys. All aged 13. All trafficked on the false promise of training and education. All sold to home-based businesses which produce clothes and garments.

Last night, the team sent through a brief report about the kids and their conditions. Among the info was this statement:

Hard to explain what the kids are going through. When we were in the car, we asked one of the kids: 'What do you think about being here in Ho Chi Minh City?' The boy replied instantly: 'Terrified.' It sounds like he has endured that kind of feeling since he arrived here. 

That boy, and 3 other children from rural Vietnam, are heading home today. They have a 600km journey ahead of them, a beautiful reunion with family when they get there. But more children are out there somewhere, hoping that somebody will be along to find them and take them home too.

And a postscript: 

This month Blue Dragon launched an appeal for funds; we desperately need to raise money to expand this rescue work and find more kids like these 4. If you believe that this kind of work is important, please donate so that more kids can escape the terror of trafficking. Every dollar helps.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The end is not nigh, but that's OK

I received an email this morning, inviting me to end human trafficking by supporting a particular charity.

It's a wonderful thought, that we really can end human trafficking. As the founder of a charity that also fights trafficking, perhaps people expect that I, too, believe in "ending it."

But my view is that human trafficking is like an incurable, yet treatable, disease. We will always have it with us. There's no permanent end, no miracle cure to be had.

So then - is it hopeless? Absolutely not!

The fight against trafficking is a fight worth waging. Here's why.

1. The battles are just as important as the war.

While human trafficking may well be with us forever (and if not, I will gladly admit I am wrong!), specific aspects of it can be extinguished. Here in Vietnam, Blue Dragon is aiming to see the end of rural children being trafficked to sweat shops; that's a whole trade in human misery that can feasibly  be brought to an end.

2. Reduction is worthwhile, even if abolition is unattainable.

If we cannot end trafficking once and for all, it is still a worthy goal to reduce it and curtail its growth. Medical science shouldn't abandon the idea of treating sick people simply because they cannot always succeed and more people will get sick; and nor should we give up the fight against trafficking simply because some people will still get trafficked.

3. There's a 'conscience' element to this.

Human trafficking stirs emotions. Recent years have seen a surge in support for the anti-trafficking movement: everyone from school kids to celebrities are speaking up about it. Something about human trafficking touches on our conscience, no matter who we are; it's a despicable crime, and deep down we all know it. Unlike most other crimes committed in our world, this is one that stirs us to act. To do nothing would be akin to the crime itself.

4. Ask a trafficked person.

In the 'development sector' we prefer to use the term 'survivor' rather than 'victim' because the former is empowering, the latter disempowering; but a person who has been trafficked has experienced a degradation of the worst kind. They have been victims. Trafficking imprisons people and puts them to work against their will, usually for some form of menial or dangerous labour, or for sex. Nobody who has been trafficked would question the value of doing something about it. Even if we cannot end all trafficking, there are individual victims - survivors, if you will - who are right now hoping that someone will come and help them. We can end it for some, even if not for all.

I do fear that trafficking is a disease our world will always have to live with. But I don't fear that we can therefore do nothing, nor that we must accept trafficking as part of the human condition.

The end of human trafficking is not nigh, but that's OK. There's still plenty that we can do, and that's worth doing.