But at Blue Dragon, we also have an eye on something a little more serious… Because the weeks after Tet are prime time for child trafficking.
When all the kids are still at home, and families have exhausted their meager savings for the holiday period, and the economy goes through a slump, human traffickers roam impoverished villages selling their ‘snake oil’.
They offer ‘vocational training’ but in reality just want vulnerable children to slave away in their factories. They offer sweeteners to families, such as a $50 ‘advance’ which in effect means the family enters debt bondage and is unable to see their children again until the end of a 2 year contract – at best.
To counter this, Blue Dragon staff have been spending time talking to families, community members, and officials to let them know the reality of life for trafficked kids.
One such meeting, in a village in rural Hue province in the centre of Vietnam, gathered about 30 people together last weekend. A local official who has traveled with Blue Dragon to look for trafficked children recounted his own experience of going into squalid factories and finding children asleep at sewing machines, or working through the night, and crying with relief at the news that they were finally allowed to go home.
These meetings are small scale, but word quickly spreads through the villages, and the impact is profound. When community members hear first hand stories of what happens to their children who are taken away from home, they resolve immediately to never let it happen to their own family. And once a few families start talking about how bad it is to send children away, the whole culture of the village changes very quickly.
Child by child, family by family, village by village, district by district. This is how Blue Dragon is working to end the trafficking of children into the garment industry.