If you met “Trang” today, you would never imagine her as the timid child she once was.
At the age of 12, Trang was sent to Ho Chi Minh City, in southern Vietnam, to work in a garment factory. For eight months she worked 15-hour days, cutting and sewing garments.
Blue Dragon rescued her and helped her to return to school. But having missed almost a whole year of school, she was the oldest in her class by a long way and felt ashamed when her classmates teased her.
To improve her maths and English ability, a Blue Dragon volunteer would visit her community to tutor her. The volunteer recalls: “She was so small and so shy. When I first met her she would sit down on the other side of the room. I continued teaching her and speaking to her so she would feel more comfortable. Eventually she trusted me enough to sit next to me.”
When Trang started joining in Blue Dragon activities and life skills training, she made new friends and her communication skills improved. When a social worker discovered her talent for drawing they encouraged her to keep drawing, and her confidence continued to grow.
But by this time, Trang’s family was struggling to get by with the meagre income from her parents’ work as fishermen, and before too long Trang had to go back to work to help support the family once again.
But Trang’s older brother understands the importance of education and helped to convince their parents than Trang should be in school and not working in a factory. Less than a month later, Blue Dragon once again brought Trang home and supported her to return to school.
Trang started leading activities and helping younger kids with their studies. She told us: “I used to be a really shy girl, so I understand how these kids feel. When I see them hesitant to join in an activity I want to be there to encourage them and help them to overcome their fears.”
With two years of school left, Trang continued drawing every day. As soon as she graduated, with support from Blue Dragon and her sponsor, she decided to go to university to study graphic design.
As the first child from her family to go to university, her mother couldn’t hide her pride. As soon as her mother heard the news, she ran around the village with a huge smile on her face, announcing the good news to anyone who would listen.
Next year Trang will graduate from university, a different person. She is no longer the shy girl hiding in the corner, but instead a confident woman ready to take on the world!