Viet was not even born when his father left.
Growing up alone with his mother was hard. They were extremely poor, surviving from day to day with hardly enough to eat.
As he grew older, life became harder. So when he turned 13, Viet decided to leave home and head to Hanoi. He wanted to find a job and hoped for a better future.
With less than $1 in his pocket, he had to walk the 134 km route from his village to the city. The journey took him 15 days but he kept going in the belief that life will be better in Hanoi.
However, Hanoi offered nothing but danger for a homeless child like Viet. No good employer wanted to hire a 13 year old boy. He quickly found himself being approached by pimps and pedophiles wanting to exploit him.
Viet held firm. He knew these men wanted to abuse him, so he refused their many offers of “help” to go back to their homes or hotels. But it meant he stayed penniless and hungry.
In order to survive, Viet had to steal. There was no other way to keep himself alive. He hated himself for doing it, but he had no other way to eat. He didn’t want to give in to the pressure to go with the pimps. Every day was about getting through to the next. Viet needed to get enough money to eat and to pay an internet shop. For a few dollars a night, he could sleep slouched in front of a computer monitor with a roof over his head.
On bad days, Viet would run into gangs and drug dealers who saw him as a soft target. It seemed impossible to stay out of trouble. He even had a saying that he would repeat to himself when he saw the “bad men” coming for him: Run or Die.
After 5 months on the streets, Viet met an Outreach Worker from Blue Dragon. It was the first time that someone cared for him without wanting anything in return. Viet remembers the words that changed his life:
“You can come with me and you’ll have food, clothes, and a future… Or you can stay here and tomorrow will be the same for you as today.”
Viet has never looked back.
That was almost 3 years ago. Today, Viet is about to turn 16 and he’s getting ready to enter a training course to repair mobile telephones. He’s very happy with this opportunity and hopes to one day own his own repair shop, just like ‘Duy’, a former Blue Dragon street kid who runs one in a suburb outside of Hanoi.
Life still isn’t easy. Viet is hoping to improve his relationship with his mother and he struggles at times with his confidence. However, he no longer lives in fear of the gangs and pimps on the streets.
He is safe, and has a future.
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Blue Dragon is a registered charity in Australia