Tan grew up in Hue, a central province in Vietnam. When he was younger, his parents relied on catching fish and collecting firewood to make ends meet. The region is often hit by bad storms making it difficult to keep a consistent income. Tan’s family was poor, and as the oldest child he felt responsible for supporting his family.
In 2008, a garment factory owner came to Tan’s village to recruit children to work at his factory in Ho Chi Minh City, a 1,000 km drive away. The children were to cut and sew clothing, a “simple and easy” job. The families would be given a sum of money in exchange for their children’s labour and the promise of a better life for their children. Given the family’s situation, this seemed like their only option to survive.
As a 14 year old, Tan began work. He soon found the “simple and easy” work was quite far from the truth. Instead, him and the other children from his village worked long hours, from 7am until midnight. The summer temperatures were torturous, and they weren’t given fans to cool them down. The room was dusty and dark, and even when the children got sick they weren’t allowed to see a doctor.
One year later, Blue Dragon had begun work in Tan’s community and realised there were many children missing and immediately took action. In a rescue mission, Blue Dragon and local authorities freed seven children and reunited them with their families.
Blue Dragon helped Tan’s family by improving their housing facilities, and supported Tan to return to school. Tan was so happy to be back to “normality” and to hang out with his friends.
After secondary school Tan knew he wanted to learn a vocation, but he had no idea where to begin! After some help from the Blue Dragon career counsellor, Tan visited a French bakery and it inspired him to enrol at a bakery school.
Tan loves baking. He loves learning new recipes and is always writing them down in a notebook he carries with him. After finishing his training he did an internship at a large hotel in Hanoi where he got to bake for Barack Obama during his visit in 2016.
But Tan’s success didn’t stop there. For the past year Tan has been working as a pastry sous chef at another 5-star hotel. He loves creating new dishes and making his client’s visions come to life. Every day he pushes himself to do better and better and continue learning. His latest creation – a dragon sculpture made entirely of chocolate! Tan spent 8 days designing and creating this as a way to reach out and say thanks to Blue Dragon for changing his life.
He said: “From being locked in a sweatshop where there is no future at all, I am now reconnected with my community and can lead a normal life. I made this dragon to share with the younger dragons that they too can fly high and achieve their dreams!”