If not us

Michael Brosowski
July 3, 2023

From Michael’s blog lifeisalongstory.com

While I am taking a short break from writing my weekly blog, I wanted to share a post from Vi Do, Blue Dragon’s co-CEO.

Vi recently shared these thoughts on his LinkedIn to inspire and to challenge.

It’s inspiring to think that we can do so much, have such an impact, simply by caring for others.

But it’s also challenging to know the responsibility that gives us.

I leave you with Vi’s words…

LinkedIn post by Vi Do

There’s a famous quote often used by activists in the US:

    If not us, who? 
    If not now, when?

I think about these words when I reflect on the work I do at Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.

In Blue Dragon, we take on difficult and thankless work. We search for children in brothels and under bridges… we face threats from pimps and traffickers… and many times we help young people who seem impossible to help.

You might have an image of a grateful child, smiling and saying thanks as we lift them out of the dirt. Sometimes it’s like that – but not often.

The children we meet suffer from all kinds of psychological issues. Many are not ready to go back to school or start a job because they are still suffering so much trauma. These kids might act out by rebelling against authority or misbehaving. Some want to make trouble just to see how we will react. They test us to see if we will still care for them even if they do something bad.

A boy sleeping by the road in Hanoi

A boy sleeping by the road in Hanoi.

There are kids we have helped over the years who started out seeming to be impossible but in the end they shine like stars. I remember one boy named Duc who was homeless in Hanoi and was abused by many pedophiles. He was only 14.

Duc gave up on himself and never believed he could ever do anything good. Even when I offered him money or a place to stay, he would refuse, and would go again with the men who abused him. It looked like he didn’t want any help. Some people said he was a bad kid.

But I knew differently. I could see he hated his life and was punishing himself for things that were not his fault. So I kept caring for him even when it didn’t seem to make any difference. I met with him at cafes, I gave him money for food, and I stayed in touch every day.

Eventually, Duc came to me and said he wanted to change his life. From that day, he never went back to the streets and did everything he could to start over. Now he is a young man and recently he married. He has his own business and uses his money for others in need. Sometimes he calls me to help homeless children he sees on the street.

Duc’s story has a very happy ending. But not all do. Some young people go to prison or join gangs. Not all of them follow the path of Duc and start helping others.

So people ask me: Why do I do it? Why dedicate my life to helping people who might never be that grateful, smiling child? Why help others when I can never be sure if it will really change their life? 

And that brings me back to the wise words:

    If not us, who? 
    If not now, when?

Most of us have family or friends to help us through a crisis. Most of us have a safety net to protect us when things go wrong.

For those who don’t: what do they have? They have us. You and me. Those of us who are lucky enough to be safe and well are the ones to help those who are in crisis.

We all have a part to play. We can’t just hope that someone else will make the world better. We can take responsibility and do it ourselves.

Because if we don’t, then who will?

Vi Do is co-CEO of Blue Dragon and a former street kid. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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