Fighting child trafficking in Vietnam

From Nights, 7:10 pm on 5 May 2016
Blue Dragon's Michael Brosowski

Australian teacher Michael Brosowski has rescued 525 trafficked children, sent 4,046 kids back to school (and played over 2,000 games of soccer) with Blue Dragon – his foundation for Vietnamese children in poverty.

  • Listen to Michael Brosowski's 2013 conversation with Bryan Crump.

Interview highlights:

Paul Brennan: Where did the name Blue Dragon come from?

Michael Brosowski: When you look up at the sky in Vietnam you don’t see a whole lot of blue. And the sort of work that we deal with is also a bit like looking at grey.

PB: How did this get started?

MB: It came about very, very simply from me being in Hanoi. I was teaching in the economics university. After work I would see children shining shoes on the street. They were kids from the countryside that had come in to earn money for their families. And I had a skill – teaching English – that they wanted. So just very naturally, very simply, I started teaching there on the side of the street. Some of my university students – who are young Vietnamese adults – found out about this and they wanted to get involved. They could see this is a worthwhile thing to do. Let’s help these kids with some education. And it all grew from that.

PB: Is something you got turned on to seeing it in real life?

MB: At that point in my life I hadn’t really put into words what my philosophy is. I guess I was still exploring it. But I grew up in poverty. I grew up living in caravans on a block of land. We raised goats for their milk and their meat and we grew our own vegetables. And later on I went on to become a school teacher. School teachers don’t earn millions, but you can live a comfortable life. And I was living that comfortable life as a school teacher and felt deeply unsatisfied… It didn’t make me happy. I was no happier than when I’d been very poor. So the first time I left Australia on a holiday I went to Vietnam and I felt real joy. I just felt a connection with the people.

I was on a tour bus. And it was one of these big tours – dozens and dozens of backpackers like me. We were in the south-west of the country and there was a mountain we were going to walk up… I’d had some food poisoning so I said 'no thank you' to the walk up the mountain. I sat at the bottom under a tree. Just sitting there local kids were coming up to me. And they weren’t asking me for money. Some asked me if I had a pen that they could have. What they wanted was help to study for their exam – they had an English exam that afternoon.

The kids just wanted to learn. And a crowd gathered and I was teaching English to these very, very poor children. And while I was doing that their mothers were coming just bringing me candies and Coca-Colas. One of their mothers had a shop. And she was illiterate this particular woman, she lived under a tin roof on a dirt floor. And here I was teaching her son English and she appreciated that so much. She just wanted to give me what very little she had. And that profoundly moved me.