That time of year

Michael Brosowski
January 22, 2023

From Michael’s blog

Just when you thought the holiday season was over…

Vietnam, along with other countries in the region, are celebrating the biggest holiday of all: Lunar New Year. In Vietnamese, it’s called Tet.

As a westerner living in Vietnam, I sometimes describe Tet as ‘Christmas + New Year x 100’. But that doesn’t quite cover it.

Vietnamese people see the end of the old year and the start of the new as a particularly important time. It sets the tone of what’s to come for the next 12 months.

Blue Dragon - a family is making Chung cake

Passing down the traditions: A grandfather teaches his grandchildren to make ‘Banh Chung’, a food traditionally eaten at Tết.

Starting the new year with new clothes, or new notes of money, is a sign of prosperity to come. Even the matter of the first visitor to enter your home after midnight is carefully considered. It must be someone with the ‘right’ birth year to make sure you have ‘good luck’ in your home.

Customary beliefs aside, Tet is the time of year that things should be right. You should be with your family. You should be having some rest. (For many Vietnamese workers, it might be the only break they have each year). And you should have plenty to eat and share.

All of which makes it a difficult time for people who are poor, or socially isolated, or sick, or in prison.

For people doing it tough, this is the time of year that their hardship hurts the most. Seeing others celebrating with their family and giving gifts to their friends only reminds them of what they don’t have.

Blue Dragon’s focus is on the big picture of how to end human trafficking. We have a vision and a plan for how to push back against this terrible crime and keep every person safe.

But that’s only half the picture.

We have this vision because we care about people. We want every child to grow up with the chance for a great life. Everyone should have that hope.

So while we work on our big goals and dreams, we never forget the individuals: the boys, girls, women and men who need help right now. After all, if we can’t change one person’s life, we can’t change the world.

With Tet upon us, Blue Dragon has been going the extra mile to make sure children and families can start the new year right.

Our rescue work has ramped up – in these first few weeks of January, we’ve brought home almost 30 people from human trafficking in neighboring countries.

And we’ve been working overtime to reunite street children with their families. In most cases, the kids do have a family to be with. They might not be able to live with them long term, but at least for the holiday period most want to be at home. Because that’s what’s ‘right’.

Helping children and families in extreme hardship to turn their lives around takes time. A single occasion, even an important one like Tet, doesn’t change lives. But we all need moments of fulfilment along our journey; times that bring us joy and create the memories we will grow old with.

For the kids of Blue Dragon, I hope that the start of this lunar new year will be one of those moments.

Thanks for reading Life Is A Long Story! You can learn more about the important work of Blue Dragon on our website.


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