Photo: Boy on a bike with some goats.

Blue Dragon's Street Outreach team recently took in three homeless boys, one of whom was living in a precarious position under a bridge in an attempt to stay safe. The other two had previously been sexually assaulted. Fortunately the harrowing stories are usually balanced by positive and uplifting news: Blue Dragon kids have done well at school, a child who was living on the street has been re-united with his family. The list goes on.

These stories highlight the amazing work the organisation is doing and why they are so worthy of support. Blue Dragon was started by Australian Michael Brosowski, who moved to Hanoi in 2002 to teach at the National University. Before too long he was also teaching English to a group shoeshine boys and with the help of one of his university students, Chung, this expanded to teaching other skills -- and Blue Dragon was born.

Blue Dragon supports poor students in rural Bac Ninh
Blue Dragon supports students in rural Bac Ninh.

Before too long, the first Blue Dragon residence was established in Hanoi, a sponsorship programme was launched and the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation was set up in Australia to provide support to the work.

In the 10 years since then, the work of Blue Dragon has grown both in scale and scope. The organisation now has 6?5 staff and supports 1,500 children in Hanoi, Bac Ninh, Hue, Hoi An and Dien Bien Phu. Its overall aim is to work with children in crisis in Vietnam. This includes working with street kids, children with disabilities, children from rural families living in extreme poverty and victims of human trafficking and slavery.

Summer activities - kids having fun
Summer activities -- kids having fun.

Blue Dragon now provides crisis care, safe shelters, a drop-in centre, nutritious meals, legal advice and other support to children in need, as well as running other activities, such as their long-standing and popular football team and art classes. One story to hit the Blue Dragon press this week was about a 16-year-old boy, Bao, who has become an accomplished DJ through training provided by a volunteer. He recently DJ’d at a dance event and met his idol, DJ Hardwell, at a concert in HCMC.

Anything is possible, Bao and DJ Hardwell
Anything is possible: Bao and DJ Hardwell.

Its focus on getting kids back into education and helping them access training and apprenticeships -- through partnerships with local businesses -- reaps great rewards. The Stay in School programme works in poverty-stricken northern and central provinces to help prevent children dropping out of school through providing sponsorship and equipment and working closely with schools and authorities. There are countless stories of children graduating from school or university or becoming chefs, mechanics, beauticians or sales people, thanks to Blue Dragon financial support and training programmes.

Blue Dragon supports vocational training
Blue Dragon supports vocational training.

Another area in which Blue Dragon works tirelessly is in finding and rescuing children who have been kidnapped or falsely lured away from home and sold or taken into the sex trade or slave labour. The anti-trafficking team, working alongside the Vietnamese police and local authorities, rescues them from their desperate situations and returns them to their families.

Blue Dragon reunited trafficked children with their families
Blue Dragon reunited trafficked children with their families.

The big story this week is about Blue Dragon working with the Vietnamese police to rescue 14 children from two garment factories in HCMC. They had been taken from their villages in northwest Vietnam with the promise of vocational training but ended up in forced labour for between eight and 24 months. As we write this they are being transported back to their homes and families.

Blue Dragon Michael addressing football kids
Blue Dragon Michael addressing football kids.

Despite the distressing nature of the circumstances in which these children are living, or have been forced into, the work of Blue Dragon offers more than just a glimmer of hope. One-off or regular donations to Blue Dragon can be made through their website via PayPal or a bank transfer.

Photos courtesy of Blue Dragon Children's Foundation.

For more information:
Blue Dragon Children's Foundation
T: +84 (4) 3717 0544
http://www.bluedragon.org/

Each month a Travelfish.org writer selects a charity or non-government organisation that they believe does excellent work on their patch in Southeast Asia. They write about them and we donate $100, a small way for us to give something back to the region. If you're looking to give back too, please consider giving a little cash as well.

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