Mai was born in Bac Ninh province, a poor rural area about 45 minutes east of Hanoi. Her mother died at an early age of complications from the AIDS virus; Mai’s father remarried and had another daughter, not knowing that he too was HIV+. He died when she was in middle school.
From bad to worse
Mai’s stepmother became violent, irrationally blaming young Mai for her illness. We met Mai as a teenager, offering support for school and a friend to talk to. When she showed interest in finding work after graduation, we helped her to begin vocational training at an upmarket restaurant in Hanoi.
A strong character
Today, Mai works in a world class kitchen. Blue Dragon also supports her younger sister to attend school. Mai’s job allows her to support her stepmother, in spite of their rocky past. We are proud of Mai’s maturity and strength of character, and we are looking forward to seeing what she’ll do in the future.
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Photo courtesy Jacques Smit
*Name and photo have been changed