Phuong* ran away from home when he was 10 years old. He was born in the far north of Vietnam. His mother lives in China and his father sold him to an extended family member when he was just 7 years old. His adopted family treated him badly, and insisted that he work on the streets instead of going to school. Phuong ran away to Hanoi.
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation staff met him in late 2011 at the local market. Sadly, they’ve been unable to locate a family member willing or able to take care of him. So now Phuong is living at Blue Dragon’s shelter in Hanoi where he’s being supported to go back to school. He’s a really happy, friendly kid and loves going to school every day.
Thanks to Intrepid travellers and Intrepid Travel matching their donations, Blue Dragon received an impressive AU$44,150 donation last year that has enabled the support for Phuong and many other children. The funds are being used two main ways during 2012:
- to provide accommodation for children at the Hoi An Children’s Home and the Hanoi shelter;
- to combat the trafficking of children in Vietnam.
Their Hanoi shelter is adjacent to the Hanoi Drop-In Centre (which many Intrepid travellers visit) and provides accommodation, food, supervision and support for all the children who live there – up to 20 kids at any one time.
One extraordinarily challenging but successful area of Blue Dragon’s work supported by our donation, has been their efforts to combat child trafficking in Vietnam. In 2011, their anti-trafficking work included the following rescue trips:
- The rescue of 25 kids, aged from 10 to 16, who had been trafficked from Hue into garment factories in Ho Chi Minh City.
- The rescue of 23 kids from Dien Bien province in remote northern Vietnam who were trafficked into garment factories. These children are from extremely poor ethnic minority villages. Most of the children, aged as young as 10, are not fluent in Vietnamese. Blue Dragon worked with the police to find and rescue these children and take them home.
- The rescue of 13 Vietnamese girls and young women trafficked into China. This cross-border work has grown from their garment factory rescues. The Vietnamese police now call on Blue Dragon to help them with complex cases, knowing that they’ve gained a lot of experience from getting the Hue and Dien Bien kids home.
The total number of children rescued from trafficking in 10 months to January 2012 was 160. With the help of supporters like Intrepid travellers through The Intrepid Foundation, Blue Dragon will continue their work towards their goal to end child trafficking in Vietnam. Last year’s big donation will support at least one more rescue trip to Ho Chi Minh garment factories in coming weeks, as well as continuing to help support rescued kids in 2012.
* Sadly Phuong’s story is true, but his name has been changed to protect his privacy.
The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
As Michael Brosowski, Director of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation says: “We couldn’t do it without you! Please help us do more this year.” And you easily can! All donations to Blue Dragon, via The Intrepid Foundation, will be matched** by Intrepid Travel!
** Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.
Photo: One of Blue Dragon’s Child Rights Advocates visits rescued children and their families in Dien Bien province.