Blue Dragon Book Fair 2022

The Blue Dragon Book Fair in the Ngaio Town Hall, Wellington on 28 and 29 May 2022 is a chance to donate books to a worthwhile cause and also find some amazing book bargains.

The very popular annual book fair is organised by the Blue Dragon Children’s Trust NZ, set up by a group of Wellington women to raise funds for Blue Dragon Children’s Centre in Vietnam.

We will be collecting books, DVDs, CDs or puzzles/board games from late April.

The book fair raises close to $18,000 every year – enough to support at least 50 Vietnamese children to go to school for a year, and buy them school uniforms, equipment and school lunches.

The donation also benefits the entire organisation and its work, which includes rescuing street kids from exploitation and sexual abuse, and young people who have been trafficked to work in factories, or in brothels or forced marriages in China.

The book fair runs from 9am to 4pm on Saturday 28 May and 9am to 3pm Sunday 29 May 2022 in the Ngaio Town Hall. We will be collecting books, DVDs, CDs or puzzles/board games from late April. If you have any queries, please contact Iona McNaughton (021 799 059 or iona.mcnaughton@gmail.com evenings only).

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Making a difference, one person at a time

Connor  Occleshaw, Wellington College student

Conor Occleshaw, year 13, and David Ash, year 12, are students at Wellington College. They visited the Blue Dragon Children’s Centre in Hanoi as part of their school history trip to Vietnam in the July holidays. Visiting the centre and meeting Michael Brosowski was a highlight of the trip.In November 2017, the boys spoke about the visit at the Blue Dragon NZ fundraising movie night, which raised $3870. The visit made a huge impression on the group, as seen in the following speech made by Conor Occleshaw.

*****
Here in New Zealand, we take many things for granted. Wifi, homes, clean water, food, clean clothes and education, to name a few things. It is only when you’re taken away from that when you realise how good we have it, and just how lucky and privileged we are. I noticed this when I was on the Vietnam History Trip earlier this year.

Firstly, aside from the intense heat and the constant swarms of people everywhere, I noticed how little the people have over there in terms of material possessions. With this being said, I have never met such polite, happy people, as everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming.

Michael Brosowsoski with a Blue Dragon child

Michael Brosowsoski with a Blue Dragon child

It was only when we visited the Blue Dragon Centre when we really learned about some of the bigger problems in Vietnam. Many of these issues were regarding children, including forced marriage, in which 11% of girls in Vietnam are married before they’re 18; forced prostitution and high rates of child labour going on around the country, using children as young as 5 years old. Roughly 1.75 million children around Vietnam are labourers, earning very little pay, if any at all.

It is not only doom and gloom, however, as we found out through our visit to the Blue Dragon Centre in Hanoi. As founder Michael Brosowski explained to us, Blue Dragon is a place where children can feel safe if they are running from a crisis, be it family-based or on a larger scale, such as escaping from trafficking.

Blue Dragon aims to help children in need gain employment (and the appropriate training to succeed), education and tuition, and offers shelter and support for children who need it, be it short-term or long-term.

Michael Brosowski with some Blue Dragon children

Michael Brosowski with some Blue Dragon children

Established in 2004, Blue Dragon has reached many important milestones in terms of putting a stop to child labour, forced marriage and forced prostitution – all major issues in Southeast Asia. Since its beginning, over 500 children and teenagers have been rescued by Blue Dragon from forced labour institutions such as factories, and forced marriages and brothels.

In fact, recently we received an email from Blue Dragon, which provided us a greater insight into the processes of their work. It describes their recent rescue of ‘Hai’, a 20 year old woman who was lured with some friends from Vietnam to China under the false pretension that she was moving from her current job to a higher-paying job. On arrival, they were put into different houses and were put into forced marriages in rural China.

Trafficked young people rescued
After a year, Hai’s “husband” allowed her to use a cellphone, which she immediately used to call home for help. Blue Dragon were contacted about Hai’s case on 7 August this year. After five days, they had located her in China, and set about making a rescue plan. On 16 August, nine days later, they brought Hai home to Vietnam, safe and sound. They are now providing her with psychological support and any vocational training she may need.

In summary, in countries like Vietnam, with a population of 92.7 million people, it is all too easy for marginalised groups to be forgotten, and for their problems to be swept under the rug. Blue Dragon is providing a safe place for young people who can go on and make a difference in the world, one young person at a time.

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