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Once upon a time an unusual friendship started between a Phoenix and a Dragon to protect Vietnam’s most vulnerable children… Discover the ‘happily ever after’ of the long standing partnership between UNIS Hanoi and the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.
A mutual desire to improve the lives of thousands of children is at the heart of a success story epitomizing UNIS Hanoi’s efforts to make meaningful contributions to the development of Vietnam.
For more than a decade, UNIS Hanoi students, teachers and parents have supported the charity that makes providing care and security for vulnerable children, often trafficked and abused, its raison d’etre. What had started through ad hoc individual voluntary commitments has now developed into whole-school programmes that offer a range of additional services for the children that Blue Dragon supports. From fun runs and walkathons to swimming lessons and sports socials, the School community is getting fully involved. And that’s a good thing, confirms Blue Dragon founder Michael Brosowski.
A former teacher from Australia, Michael believes the collaboration between Blue Dragon and UNIS Hanoi is a ‘natural fit’. And despite the often dark realities of life for the children who find their way into the warm embrace of Blue Dragon, UNIS Hanoi students relate well with them. Michael adds, “I love the idea of kids helping kids and what I find with UNIS Hanoi kids who visit our centre is that there’s no differentiation between them and our kids. They’re just all kids, and I think that’s special and it’s something that the School should be proud of.”
As well as visiting Blue Dragon’s main drop-in centre, UNIS Hanoi students also organise Saturday sports events and they welcome groups to the School to learn safe water skills as part of the Swim for Life Service Learning programme. What’s more, for the past ten years, the Elementary School has come together to host a walkathon with all donations directly benefitting Blue Dragon clients. “The walkathon is quite an institution now” remarks Michael. “It’s so lovely that it’s a community event that the students and parents enjoy. I hope that everyone benefits in some way from taking part and that it’s not just seen as a money-raising activity but a physical way for the School community to feel further involved with what we do.” To date, a total of $120,000 USD has been raised, with all funds used to pay school fees - a provision Michael, as a former teacher is so passionate about. For every $100 raised, a child somewhere in Vietnam is able to stay on in school, and in turn transform their lives. This cause, Michael says, offers perfect synergy between the School and Blue Dragon.
He continued, “Our relationship with UNIS Hanoi is the longest established relationship we’ve had with any school. But that’s because UNIS has really positioned itself as a community and that’s how we see ourselves as well. For the School community, it’s not just about turning up somewhere to receive an education or to get some benefit; it is also about what each person puts back into that community. UNIS Hanoi is an outward looking school which wants to get involved in local issues. We’re inspired by that example.”
Visit the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation website to find out more and how you can support their work: www.bluedragon.org
About Blue Dragon
The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation (or Blue Dragon as it’s more commonly known) started life as an English drop-in centre back in 2004 by Michael Brosowski. Currently, the charity employs 82 staff members who help as many as 1,500 young people in a variety of ways at any one time. Some clients benefit through the scholarship programme which currently includes 80 young adults studying in university, while others find safety and care in one of the five Blue Dragon shelters around the country. To date, Blue Dragon has also rescued 600 children and young adults from trafficking, both in Vietnam and from China.