Hanh was 17 when she was kidnapped to China. Invited by a classmate to a nearby town to shop, she was sold by her “friend” to a sex trafficker. For the next 6 months she was trapped in the hell of an underground brothel.
Fortunately, this brave and resourceful girl was able to get a message to her family and explain her desperate situation. The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation was alerted to the case and went immediately into action to find her.
After painstakingly tracking her down, the team engineered a dramatic rescue. They then raced back to Hanoi, where Hanh was reunited with her family. Two of her traffickers were also arrested that day by Chinese police. Hanh is still recovering, but will soon return to class, and hopes to finish high school next year.
Hanh's story is the reason why two months from now, my son and I will be riding Russian motorcycles for ten days through northern Vietnam.
Because the scourge of slavery didn't end in 1865 ... it has just mutated into a worldwide, $32 billion industry that feeds on a human toll of 2.5 million people per year. The problem is especially acute here in Vietnam.
And because we can do something about it.
Rally Indochina 2015 helps raise money and awareness for Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, which through direct action rescues Vietnamese kids from Chinese brothels, illegal sweatshops, and off the streets, then helps the police go after those who stole their childhood.
You see, my son the engineering student is on a leave of absence from college this term, and has been spending his days volunteering down at Blue Dragon's Hanoi headquarters, helping them with many of the technical tasks associated with running a foundation. He picked this cause based on the way they are directly involved in helping save people in dire need.
When I say "directly involved", I mean they physically send people on rescue missions, whether it be out onto the streets of Hanoi, into sweatshops in Saigon, or to brothels deep inside southern China. Sometimes the missions can be quite harrowing.
Just two days ago, in fact, Blue Dragon posted this news item on their Facebook page:
For the past 10 days, Blue Dragon's Rescue Team has been communicating with a 17 year old Vietnamese girl who was trafficked and sold to a Chinese brothel. Desperate to escape, she had an opportunity yesterday to run away and has done so with 2 other girls. They are in hiding and waiting for our team to find them, so they can get back to safety in Vietnam. The girls have been incredibly brave to take this risk; it shows that they will do anything to escape the horrors of sex slavery.
That is what they do. This is how it works:
I first became aware of Blue Dragon through my work at the US Embassy in Hanoi, and believe me, this is one group that is even more impressive the more you get to know them. While many human trafficking groups focus on awareness and government action, Blue Dragon focuses on kids: rescuing them, returning them, and helping them recover.