This content is also available in: Vietnamese
Blue Dragon’s Hanoi headquarters, nicknamed Dragon House, is a bustling centre with a steady stream of children and teens coming and going.
A team of social workers, psychologists, teachers and lawyers is on hand to work with the kids around the clock. Out in the provinces, Blue Dragon assists children and communities with a range of services, from enrolling students in school to building classrooms to running leadership courses for teenage girls.
This might look like the charity model that non-profits adopt around the world, but there are some distinguishing features that Blue Dragon has pioneered.
RESCUE: Since 2005, Blue Dragon has been rescuing children, teens and young adults from places of slavery, both in Vietnam and China.
Typically, victims of trafficking are manipulated and deceived, then find themselves trapped and sold into forced labor, forced marriages, or brothels. Blue Dragon receives calls for help from desperate families and goes to find those who have been taken against their will – and brings them home.
The Blue Dragon Facebook page tells countless stories of children in perilous situations whose lives have been turned around thanks to an act of rescue.
ADVOCACY: Among the team at Blue Dragon are lawyers who offer legal advice and representation to children and teens who are either in conflict with the law, or victims of crime – or sometimes both. The Blue Dragon lawyers take on exceptionally complex cases, such as registering people who have never been registered as citizens and advocating for legal reform when the laws provide insufficient protection for children. In recent years, the team has taken on the monumental task of having the law revised to offer boys legal protection from sexual abuse.
‘END TO END’ SERVICE: While their rescues of trafficking victims and outreach services to homeless children attract the most attention, Blue Dragon works with young people for as long as needed – in some cases, over many years – until they have recovered from trauma and are ready to stand on their own. Long after a daring rescue has taken place, Blue Dragon’s lawyers are making statements in court, their psychologists are offering comfort and counselling, and the organization even provides scholarships to university for those who wish to continue their education.
This blending of grass-roots services with top-level change has created what Blue Dragon speaks of as a “trickle up effect.” Lessons learned from the people they serve feed in to policy development, legal reform, and government training programs so that the impact of Blue Dragon’s day-to-day work reaches across the country.
The personal stories of transformed lives are what is most impressive about Blue Dragon, created 14 years ago by two volunteers. The very first child they rescued from slavery, a 13 year old boy named Ngoc who was trafficked to sell flowers on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, now works for the organization in its fight against the exploitation of children.
And Ngoc is not alone. Blue Dragon employs other former street children who have turned their lives around and come back to Blue Dragon as young professionals seeking their own chance to change the world.
BLUE DRAGON AT A GLANCE
Blue Dragon is a registered charity in Australia, the United States, the UK, and New Zealand. The organization serves more than 1,500 children in Vietnam, including street kids, victims of human trafficking, and young people with disabilities.
YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
Blue Dragon USA:
PO Box 620967
Littleton, CO 80162, USA
Blue Dragon Vietnam:
PO Box 297
International Post Office Hanoi, Vietnam