|UNleashing a Domino Effect of compassion and support |
When Michael Brosowski arrived in Vietnam, he had no idea of what he would eventually be doing in the country. “I came to Vietnam without any clear plan – which in hindsight sounds like a crazy thing to do,” he explained. “I was an English teacher in Australia, so I had the idea to eventually pick up a teaching job but initially I just wanted to get to know Vietnam and travel.”
However, everything changed within his first year in the country. “I was teaching at the National Economics University and often met kids on the streets around Hanoi. I started teaching English to some and got to know their families,” he said.
“At that time, I had no plan to be involved in charity work and I would have carried on with my normal life if not for the university students I was teaching.
During class, I would share with them stories about meeting children on the streets here in Hanoi and teaching them some English. One day, a few students came to me to talk. One of them said, ‘This isn’t right. You’re a foreigner and you are helping Vietnamese children. We are Vietnamese, and we aren’t helping anyone. So, we want to help you.’ That was truly the start of what Blue Dragon is today.”
With this, the idea of the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation was born – and with it an organisation that set itself the mission to help those in need, with a particular focus on children and teenagers in difficult circumstances.
“At the outset, when we had the idea to create the organisation, we had no clue of the rules or expectations. But not knowing the rules meant that we created the organisation as we really believed we should. It was, and still is, all about caring for people and giving kids a chance, even when they don’t meet someone else’s criteria or fit neatly into a box,” described Brosowski the beginning of Blue Dragon’s establishment.
Nowadays, Blue Dragon has many teams in Vietnam’s Hanoi, as well as supporters in Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, and less populated areas like Dien Bien, Ha Giang, and Hue.
Over seven years ago, Skye Maconachie – who is now the co-CEO of Blue Dragon – began volunteering for the organisation before she decided to work full-time for the charity. “At that time I had been working in Australia in humanitarian relief, but I was becoming burnt out by inhumane policies and rules. I was put on Earth to help people, and I had to find a way I could do that fully. That’s my purpose in life. I strongly believe and align with the mission and values.”
Maconachie describes Blue Dragon as an organisation that would do whatever it takes to keep children safe. “We don’t let ourselves be limited by others’ views or criteria; we live and breathe a child-centred approach. For me as a social worker by trade, Blue Dragon is the best organisation in the world. We have a very human approach and encourage our staff to work not only with their expertise but also their heart,” she emphasised.
Brosowski’s mission has also encouraged many Vietnamese to get on board and help children and teenagers in need.
Dao Hoang Anh came to Blue Dragon after getting his degree in social work and now has the role of an outreach social worker.
“At first, my family was quite worried about me working mostly at night. However, when I shared more about the importance of my job and the risks for children if they couldn’t meet social workers like me, my family understood more and even expressed how proud of me they are,” Hoang Anh explained.
Similarly, Do Thi Huyen Trang who also works as a social worker, often focuses on sharing the joy she receives from her job. “For example, how I am treated as part of the family when I visit a child’s home; the beautiful scenes I get to see on every journey; the joy of watching a child attend a vocational training class and then seeing them start working after they finish training,” Trang said.
Another outreach social worker, Bui Doan Cong, feels lucky that his family and friends support his unusual but altruistic job. Cong is so proud that he would not trade his job for any other.
“The mission and meaning of the work that Blue Dragon does have inspired me to improve more and more, perfecting myself to contribute a small part to the society. I have great colleagues, and a perfect work environment for me to do what I’m passionate about,” Cong said.
Likewise, Nguyen Thu Thuy, manager of Safe and Sound North at Blue Dragon, sees her job as something special. “It’s not a place where you start work at 9 and leave at 5. It’s a demanding job every day, but we also take care of each other in a very human way. All of us at Blue Dragon are encouraged to be fully ourselves,” she said.
Along with the work from Blue Dragon’s volunteers and team members, Brosowski emphasised the crucial role of other supporters. “One amazing thing about Blue Dragon is that our supporters are all kinds of people – often those who you might not expect. We receive incredible support from schools, companies, and governments, as well as from so many ordinary people,” he said.
“Blue Dragon often gets credit for our good work, but honestly it’s our supporters who deserve the thanks. Nothing we do is possible without them.”