Trang* is 16 years old and lives with her uncle in the Điện Biên province, in the Northwest region of Vietnam close to the borders with Laos and China, to be close to her school.

It is a beautiful part of Vietnam, with diverse ethnic groups and breathtaking scenery, but its remote location, mountainous terrain and endemic poverty make life here particularly hard.

Trang belongs to the Thai ethnic minority, and like most Điện Biên residents she was not registered at birth. Registration costs very little, but the mountainous terrain makes it particularly difficult to travel and few people can afford the 25km trip to the province capital to register.

In September, Trang heard on the local radio system that Blue Dragon, with the cooperation of the district police, would be running a free ID card registration campaign for local residents.

She had wanted to get an ID card for a long time. Conscious of being a financial burden to her uncle, she desperately wanted to be able to work after school and rent a room with friends.

She was very excited at the prospect of getting her ID papers and happily walked the 3kms (45mins) to get to the community centre to take part.

With her new ID card, Trang can now become more independent and relieve the financial pressure on her uncle. She will also be able to take the examinations to graduate from high school; taking her one step closer to her dream of helping the illiterate children in her village by becoming a teacher.

“I’m so happy! Thank you so much. This has changed my life,” she said, proudly holding her new ID. “I would never have been able to afford to get one myself.”

Trang was just one of the hundreds of people who attended Blue Dragon’s ID card registration campaign and received their official papers – the oldest was 80 years old! These new ID cards will change lives, as they mean that they can now qualify for government assistance and low interest bank loans; graduate from high school and have increased work options. Having an ID card will also make girls like Trang less vulnerable to human trafficking.

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The gift of a legal identity

Anh and Tu’s stories

*Not her real name