Time to rebuild
The images of Vietnam today are in striking contrast to just a few weeks ago, when quiet city streets, closed cafes and stores, and empty schools were the norm.
While most of the world continues with social distancing and lockdown, Vietnam appears to be returning to normal.
But real recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is a long road ahead. Even now, many people remain in crisis because of lost jobs… family businesses that will never reopen… and children who have not returned to school, and may never do so without some outside help.
What does this mean for Blue Dragon?
First: Right now, there are still children and families deep in crisis because of the pandemic who need help. This is why we are continuing to keep our Emergency Appeal open, accepting donations to deliver immediate aid to young people in urgent need of food, shelter, and other basic support.
Second: At the very same time, we have already started rebuilding for the future. This means helping people and communities get back on their feet and earning an income; reuniting families who were separated during the crisis and supporting them as they recover; and stepping up our rescue work to bring home girls and women who have been trafficked and enslaved.
Essentially, Blue Dragon is now switching to two speeds. We are continuing to provide immediate, emergency aid, while also rebuilding in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Here are the 3 R’s of what we’ll be working on in the coming months.
Despite the lockdown largely being lifted in Vietnam, travel within China is still limited and cross-border travel very difficult. Calls for help from Vietnamese girls and women have not slowed down during the pandemic, and we are seeing an upswing in trafficking cases right now.
Blue Dragon’s work of rescuing people from slavery, which is urgent even in normal times, is going to be more pressing and more common for the foreseeable future.
Rescue services are also needed for children within Vietnam who have come to the cities from rural areas. The increased number of children on the streets is creating opportunities for exploitation: boys and girls we’ve been meeting since the lockdown lifted have been disclosing stories of abuse and organised pimping.
Beyond the immediate rescue, Blue Dragon needs to scale up our accommodation, counselling, and legal services to provide for those we rescue and assist.
Bringing families back together is key to rebuilding after the pandemic. Some families may need not much more than a social worker to facilitate a reunion between parents and children; others will need ongoing counselling and practical assistance, such as financial support, for the family to stay together.
One by one, people who have lost their jobs need help to find new employment. Children who have left school and not yet returned need counselling and support to re-enroll. Survivors of trafficking and abuse need ongoing care as they heal from their trauma.
Whole communities need restoration as they rebuild after the crisis. Blue Dragon is working in rural and urban areas to improve community infrastructure; train farmers in environmentally friendly, chemical-free crop growing or livestock raising; and develop the skills of frontline workers, such as teachers, social workers and border guards, who are in positions to keep young people safe.
Let’s get rebuilding
Across Vietnam, there is hope that the nation can recover from the coronavirus pandemic. It will take time, and it will not be until the whole world recovers that this crisis will finally be over.
But it can be done. Blue Dragon is committed to rebuilding the lives and communities who have been hit hard by coronavirus, even as we continue to support children and families who need urgent support.