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Friday, December 19, 2008

A Hanoi Christmas

(Michael Brosowski shared his unforgettable Christmas in Hanoi)

The big question on everyone’s lips at the moment is: “Do you miss being home for Christmas?”

Of course, the answer isn’t as simple as a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’. After all, my home is in Hanoi. I don’t have a home in Australia.

Santa Claus

And as nice as it is to see my family when I go back, there is a very real sense in which I have a family here in Vietnam – albeit a very large, diverse family...

With Christmas on a Sunday this year, we took the opportunity to turn our regular events into special events. Soccer, which kicks off at 8am every Sunday, was played as normal, but at the end all the kids received an armload of presents donated by the United Nations International School. Big thanks to Julian Carey for initiating this, and to her husband David and son William, who drove out with her to the field on Christmas morning to make the Big Delivery!

Vincom Tower

Getting our kids organized is always a challenge, but when it came time for gift giving they all sat down in rows and our volunteers distributed 3 or 4 presents to every one of the 74 street kids. That’s a LOT of presents!

Our good friends Jennifer Davoli from the US, and Catherine DeVrye from Australia were there along with all of us from Blue Dragon to help with giving out the gifts… and to share in the tremendous excitement of the event. The kids were HUGELY thrilled with it all, and the parcels they received were really something. There were toys, books, soccer balls, shampoo, clothes, watches, hats… even a canned wombat (which, I believe, was not a real wombat…)

Hanoi Cathedral

Once the wrapping paper was discarded and the field was deserted, we were all off to more parties for the kids. A couple of dozen came by the Blue Dragon HQ to watch Tom and Jerry DVDs, and then at 11am our volunteer Tarah hosted a lunch for all of the kids who attend our weekly drumming circle. Lots of singing, eating, and making funny faces out of sweets!

I then headed to the home of Robert Gordon, the British Ambassador to Vietnam. His family has been exceptionally kind and supportive over the last year or so, and invited me to join their Christmas lunch. 24 hours on and I still feel full…

Lovely kids on Christmas day

And finally, a quiet evening with just a handful of kids – I wanted to spend some time with the young guys I have known through 4 Christmases, and who are now in full time employment. It was quite special, to share our memories of the last few years and look back on all that’s changed…

After all the excitement, Blue Dragon HQ was closed today (Boxing Day), although there were still a few kids about needing a hand with this or that. One of the Social Workers and I spent the afternoon at a hospital visiting Hung, one of the kids, who has been seriously ill with a lung disease but is starting to recover. He was even able to walk downstairs to sit outside with us, which is a huge leap from where he was just a month ago.

Christmas night

More on Hung in the next blog! For now, a big THANK YOU to everyone who has been emailing me about Ngoc, the young boy who was trafficked – your concern is appreciated.

And a happy Christmas to all!

For more tips on traveling to Vietnam and joining special Christmas season here, you can visit:
travel vietnam, travel hanoi, halong bay, halong cruise, sapa


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