There’s a story in the Vietnamese newspapers at the moment about 6 boys robbing a man in a guava field near a bus station in Hanoi.
When this story first came to our attention at Blue Dragon, we immediately suspected there was something more to it.
You see, three years ago Vi Do from Blue Dragon gave a TEDx talk. Vi leads our work with street kids, specializing in finding children in abusive situations and getting them to safety.
In his talk, Vi shared a story about his experience of rescuing underage boys from a sex trafficking ring in Hanoi that operated out of… a guava field near a bus station in Hanoi.
Of the 6 people who have been arrested for robbery, four are aged 15 or 16. The victim of their robbery was a man procuring sex in the field. It doesn’t take much to guess what may be going on.
Vietnam’s economic and social development over the years since Blue Dragon started have been impressive. There are plenty of gaps and always much more to do, but the progress has been remarkable.
And now, suddenly, the coronavirus pandemic puts all this progress at risk. We’ve seen a sharp rise in young people who are desperate. Out of jobs, their parents unemployed, and their schools unable to open, children and teens may have to choose between going hungry or heading to the streets. They may have to choose between staying at home with a family that cannot provide for them, or rolling the dice and traveling to a city far away in the hope that there’s work and food.
This inevitably means an uptick in human trafficking, homelessness, and child exploitation. The story from the guava field rings a warning bell that we urgently need to investigate.
The COVID-19 virus itself is so far well under control in Vietnam. But the damage to the livelihoods of people who were already vulnerable and poor is massive.
Without intervention, the coming months and years will see a sharp rise in exploitation of those who are hurting most. We are already seeing the evidence.
No matter what happens, we will not give up and we cannot slow down in our efforts to keep children safe.
Right now, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation is holding an Emergency Appeal. We are asking for donations to deliver immediate aid and to protect children and families from exploitation. If you can, please consider donating to this important cause.