2002 In October Michael Brosowski, an Australian teacher, arrives in Vietnam to work at Hanoi’s National University. Within two months, Michael finds himself teaching English to a group of kids he never expected to meet: shoeshine boys who walked the streets hoping to earn enough money to survive.
2003 Enlisting the help of one of his university students, Pham Sy Chung, Michael teaches weekly classes in English, maths, art and yoga to 5-10 shoeshine boys. They start a football team. More and more kids seek their help, and by the end of 2003, Michael and Chung decide to create their own organisation: Blue Dragon is born.
2004 The first Blue Dragon residence for six former street kids is established in Hanoi. The boys call their home ‘The Big Room’. In nearby Bac Ninh province, a sponsorship program is launched to keep poor rural children in school and off the streets in Hanoi. Michael and a group of Australians form the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation committee in Australia to provide support to the work done in Vietnam.
2005 With just three full time staff, Blue Dragon opens a combined drop-in centre and office in the impoverished Long Bien area of Hanoi. Meanwhile, Michael and a law student volunteering for Blue Dragon rescue a trafficked 13 year old boy from the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, the first of many rescued children.
2006 Blue Dragon holds its first annual Tet Awards, celebrating the Vietnamese Lunar New Year and the achievements of all the children. We move to a larger centre to accommodate the increasing numbers of children seeking help, many for the new free lunch program.
2007 One major trafficking ring is permanently disrupted by the anti-trafficking team. The team also rescues three girls who were kidnapped and sold to brothels in China; it is Blue Dragon’s first experience rescuing victims of the sex trade. Blue Dragon begins supporting the Hoi An Children’s Home, a government-run home in central Vietnam for 30 girls and boys.
2008 Blue Dragon kids receive training through cooperation with local businesses to become chefs, social workers, beauticians, motorbike repairers, mobile phone mechanics and salespeople. Students supported to stay in school achieve excellent results and Blue Dragon starts to see the first students enrolling in university.
2009 A Blue Dragon boy, rescued from slave labour in 2005, accepts a scholarship to study for four years at Chatsworth International School in Singapore. The Stay in School program expands to over 500 children.
2010 Blue Dragon United Football Club is launched in Hanoi with a weekly turnout of 60-80 children, and awards for the players who display teamwork, cooperation and respect on the pitch. To improve governance, the Australian Blue Dragon committee incorporate to form Blue Dragon International.
2011 Blue Dragon rescues its 100th trafficked child, the football team plays its 1,000th game of football in Hanoi, and Michael is chosen as one of 2011’s CNN Heroes.
2012 Blue Dragon relocates to Dragon House, a new centre housing Blue Dragon’s office, kitchen, classrooms, Drop-in Centre and gym. The Hoi An Children’s Home in central Vietnam becomes independent. Michael is awarded a Member of the Order of Australia, a great honour that reflects the huge impact of the organisation he co-founded.
2013 Two new residential facilities are established for children in need of a safe home, and for young adults transitioning to lives independent of Blue Dragon. Up to 30 children and youth can be accommodated.
2014 Blue Dragon has 65 staff and cares for over 1,500 children in Hanoi, Bac Ninh, Hue, Hoi An and Dien Bien. By focusing on getting kids back into education, training and apprenticeships, we are working for the long-term benefit of children in need. In ten years’ time, we will still be here doing what we do best: creating opportunities for lasting change.
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