Blue Dragon volunteers provide a huge amount of support to our staff and the kids. We spoke with Vibhav, who volunteered over the summer and was heavily involved in the Drop-in Centre makeover.
Why do you choose to volunteer at Blue Dragon?
I chose to volunteer at Blue Dragon because my school has a relationship with them but, beyond that, the transparency of the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation is one that resonates with me, and my school. We have constant communication, we see constant improvements on Facebook for example, we see pictures, we get newsletters and we see that our efforts at school are having an effect. With other organisations they might not be as clear, they might not communicate as clearly how the money is being spent and how efficient the organisation is and for me the fact that we can trust Blue Dragon to do well with what we provide, whatever we can provide, that’s something that every organisation should strive for.
What makes you choose Blue Dragon to fund raise for over other charities?
The transparency. We don’t get that kind of communication from other organisations. We donated 1,000, 2,000 to other foundations as a trial and we got like, one letter back to say thank you but they didn’t update their Facebook page or keep us updated.
If you were to tell other people about our work, what are the most important things for them to know?
I think, firstly, obviously is working with the street kids, providing them with a safe haven within the city of Hanoi, that’s what been most relevant for me. Also the anti trafficking stuff, those two departments are working to secure kids all over Vietnam. Not just the street kids who know about Blue Dragon and want to be involved but also other young people who don’t ask well.
What inspires you about the kids at Blue Dragon?
Being in a different environment in Singapore with kids who are of the same age who somehow manage to find problems with their very comfortable lives I think it’s so inspiring to see the kids here who may not lead as comfortable lives but manage to remain so happy and so generally optimistic about how their life is going to turn out. With the support of Blue Dragon they know they can choose to do certain things and they know they have the opportunity and they really appreciate what is given to them and what they have. Other kids around the world may not be the same. For me that’s what’s so inspiring.
What challenges did you face this week as a volunteer?
I there’s a good reason for the 6-month requirement for volunteers because it gives them time to get to know the kids and to get into the system. I think that the first one or two days I was less comfortable with the kids but once I began to hang out with and spend time with the kids they became more comfortable with me. It was much quicker than last year. I think on the whole as well the kids were much friendlier this year – kudos to the organisation. I also faced the challenge of trying to be relevant; trying not to be a volunteer who was a drain. I wanted to be able to contribute and I was really glad that I found something and that I had a skill set that you needed so that I could help out.
What challenges do you think Blue Dragon faces as an organisation?
I think as the organisation expands, as with any organization, there is going to be less communication within the teams and as they go on and grow and do their different things it could become less efficient as it gets bigger. Looking at that, it’s the same for any organisation in the world. So, just ensure that you maintain sight of your original goals as you expand.
What are the most effective ways to fund raise as a school?
I think it’s difficult to combine advocacy and fundraising in an effective way. For example, this year we held a 3 by 3 basketball night. We made a trailer for it, we made it interesting for people to want to come there and see. People signed up and we got money from that. Half way through the tournament we took a break, just to talk about Blue Dragon. We made sure that they knew what they were playing for and what they were donating for, then we continued playing. So, they get to hear about it and you get to advocate for the cause but it doesn’t really sink in in the way that a singular advocacy event does. Like when you and Vi came to our school and talked, everyone was listening and taking it to heart. When money wasn’t involved and it was just the advocacy people really understood the message and it made it more relevant for them. And I think advocacy is the first step. Once the feel connected they will definitely be willing to donate.
What are your ideas about how Blue Dragon could effectively engage young people from other schools into the cause? What grabbed you and pulled you in?
I think it was once we got to know about Blue then the relationship grew from there. I think for students it’s whoever you see. I think if you guys keep travelling and go to different schools then if people see you and understand your cause and see what you’re doing then you’ll begin to believe in the cause. It’s about the connection. Social media can help … there are lots of social media campaigns that work but it takes a really huge campaign.
If you had advice for other people considering coming to Blue Dragon to volunteer, what would your advice be?
I’d say do the little things that don’t really seem like much to you because they could mean a lot to other people.
What have you personally gained from volunteering with Blue Dragon?
Obviously there is working with the kids and being inspired by the kids. And secondly, working with other people who view this as very important and have devoted their lives to social work and stuff like that. Being in that environment, that is something that I’ve really come to appreciate and learn from.
Blue Dragon advertises positions for volunteers and accepts applicants who are prepared to commit 6 months – 1 year, and have the skill sets as listed in the website. All volunteers must provide references, as well as cleared police checks in their respective countries.
Click here to go to Blue Dragon’s home page