Thanks to the incredible efforts put in by those taking part, the Blue Dragon Walk has gone from strength to strength. This year, more than 1,500 people walked in 17 countries, raising a record breaking $360,000 AUD.
This year’s walk is a testament to what can be achieved by a community of like-minded individuals coming together with a single goal: to help disadvantaged children and their families in Vietnam. Blue Dragon couldn’t do the work it does without its community of partners, corporate donors, individual supporters, staff and volunteers.
Here we have just a snapshot of some of the amazing members of our wonderful community. All of these people show us that at any stage in life you make a difference.
A long-term partner: Intrepid Travel
A significant part of our community is The Intrepid Foundation, who handle the behind the scenes logistics of the Walk. The reason Darrell Wade, Intrepid Travel’s co-founder, continues to give the Walk his full support is simple: “I’ve seen Blue Dragon’s work first hand and the more I see and work with them, the more impressed I become. Blue Dragon really does change the lives of human trafficking survivors and their families.”
On the day, Intrepid’s staff enthusiastically took part in walks around the world — from Australia to Vietnam to Ecuador — encouraged by the feeling that their actions can have positive consequences.
“You can have a massive impact raising funds for Blue Dragon,” Darrell said after the event. “It’s not often you can make a really dramatic positive impact on someone’s life, but by walking this marathon we can do just that.”
In the local community: rural Vietnam
Whole communities came together in Dien Bien and Ha Giang, provinces in Vietnam’s northern mountains, for the Blue Dragon Walk.
Walking is central to children’s lives in communities like these. “To get to school, these children have to cross difficult terrain, by foot,” says Duyen Hoang, a deputy principal in Dien Bien, “but, with a dream of learning how to read and write, those little feet travel dozens of miles to school every day.”
Inspired by the efforts of Blue Dragon social workers in the province, school teachers, local officials and even a running club all came together to walk for their communities. Many of these people have worked with Blue Dragon for years, supporting children to stay in school and preventing human trafficking. But this was the first time they’d all been brought together on a single day and collectively walked for change.
“Walking not only helps us overcome ourselves,” says Duyen, “it also gives children the opportunity to keep going to school.”
School children around the world: Little Blue Dragons in Singapore
The work of Blue Dragon focuses on helping disadvantaged school children in Vietnam. It’s particularly heartwarming when we see school kids across the world, including here in Vietnam, coming together to support their peers without the same opportunities as them.
Among the walkers in Singapore were children and their teachers from a variety of schools walking and running undeterred by rain to support children like them in Vietnam.
Luke Furler, who organised the Singapore event, said, “We are all so grateful to be in a position to help raise a heap of awareness and funds for Blue Dragon.”
Older and wiser: Geoff and Dan in Melbourne
The Blue Dragon community welcomes all ages. Geoff and Dan, both in their 70s, joined hundreds of walkers along the famous beach road in Melbourne.
The duo re-connected earlier this year — bonding over their love of walking and running in far-flung places — after their lives took different paths half a century ago.
Geoff is an avid supporter of Blue Dragon. Dan, seeing his determined friend return from injury to participate in the Walk, was inspired and signed up himself. On the day, they set out to complete at least 21 km. In the end, this motivated 70-something-year-old duo walked a full marathon.
After the event, Dan wasn’t concerned by his own accomplishment, he spoke only of his admiration for his friend: “I am immensely pleased and proud of Geoff’s effort on the walk. He is a great fighter, an absolute gentleman and a philanthropist to the Vietnam communities.”
Without people like Geoff and Dan, who could be quietly enjoying retirement, Blue Dragon wouldn’t be what it is.
Young and Restless: Williem in Melbourne
11-year-old Williem shows us that you’re never too young to make a difference. Already on his second 10 km walk in Melbourne and raising $2,000, Williem has accomplished so much.
It’s not only his achievements that are impressive, it is Williem’s motivation: “I remember how grateful I am to be in my situation,” he says, “some kids my age, or even younger, are struggling each day and I wanted to help!”
Williem is already looking to next year, when he will be “faster and fitter to do it all again!”
Hang: A mother in Japan
Hang, a mother from Vietnam now living in Japan, gave birth to Hikaru less than a year ago. Complications during baby Hikaru’s birth meant he spent four months in intensive care before he could go home.
Knowing how fortunate Hikaru was to have access to life-saving treatment, Hang wanted to do something so children in Vietnam can have the same chance to live as Hikaru.
Hang is a regular donor to Blue Dragon but the Walk was an opportunity to let more friends and family know about the cause. “I joined the Blue Dragon Walk because I wanted more people in Japan to support Blue Dragon,” says Hang.
Hang can see the impact she has had, and that already it is growing: “I’ve always wanted to help disadvantaged kids and I saw the impact I could have through the Walk. Last year only two friends joined me but this year there were twenty of us.”
Corporate partner: Accor Hotel Group
As well as passionate individuals, Blue Dragon relies on the support of partner organisations like the Accor Hotel Group.
Mike Britt, Premier Residences Phu Quoc Emerald Bay, a member of the Accor Group, said “I put the message out about the Blue Dragon Walk and thought we might get 20 walkers. However, there was a lot of interest. In the end, over 500 people joined walks in six locations, and we raised over $8,600.”
After the event, Mike was pleased with what they achieved as a group, he said, “The walks have helped Accor bring the hotel teams throughout Vietnam together to raise awareness of Blue Dragon. We were also driven to raise a significant donation and are very happy to learn how our contribution will specifically support children that have been through very challenging situations.”
Committed staff: Trong and Huong in Hanoi
Staff like Trong and Huong, both Blue Dragon social workers who spend their days supporting disadvantaged children in Hanoi. But still, they wanted to do more to let their friends and family know about the work they and Blue Dragon do and raise money.
Last year, Trong was disappointed that injury prevented him from completing his walk, making him more resolute this year. “I’m really proud of myself,” he said after the event, “I achieved my goal of letting more of my friends know about Blue Dragon. I’m really happy.”
Similarly, Huong walked 21 km alongside her team and raised over $5,400.
Knowing her friends, family, and even Blue Dragon supporters she’d never met were behind her, Huong was brimming with satisfaction after the Walk. “Everyone’s support has been a source of motivation for me to accomplish today’s challenge,” she says “but it also motivates me and the team to provide even more assistance to street children, helping them have a better life.”
Although they come from different and varied backgrounds — former street children turned social workers, altruistic individuals, business owners and international corporations — all of them are members of the Blue Dragon global community and united by a desire to support disadvantaged families in crisis and end human trafficking.
Planning for next year’s walk is already underway. To be the first to know the details, email our team at email@example.com!