On Thursday evening, I visited Green Bamboo Shelter for boys located in the heart of Saigon. It is a small centre for disadvantaged boys in the city. The organisation is in dire need of funding to ensure it can continue to provide much needed support for the vulnerable boys and young men.
On entering Green Bamboo, I was greeted Ms lieu who is an absolute force to be reckoned with. She is working tirelessly to ensure the boys are safe, educated, healthy and loved. The relationships she has built with the 13 boys who call the centre home is clear to see, as the boys giggle, play and chat to her with ease.
One of the older boys proudly showed me the bedroom where he and the others sleep. With a huge smile, he pointed to a thin mattress, next to a fan, in the corner of the empty room. Lieu explained that he has lived at the centre for the past 8 years after fleeing his home due to domestic violence. This is sadly the reason most of the boys arrive and stay at Green Bamboo.
Lieu repeatedly talked about the future of the boys and how her aim is to ensure that they grown into happy, healthy, educated and independent adults. “Their future must be happy” she stated.
The boys at the centre range is age from 8 to 19 years old. Lieu says that there is no age limit and the boys can stay until they are confident to make their way in the world.
The centre ensures all the boys have the correct paperwork to be able to attend public school each day. Retired Vietnamese school teachers also volunteer their time, each evening, for drop in students who would like to access and complete their education.
Lieu shared many success stories from the centre and spoke proudly of Ho Quoc Thong, a 21 year old photographer who lived at the centre for many years. He now runs a gallery in District 12 and offers photography workshops for disadvantaged youths.
In discussions with Lieu about how ‘namrunsnam’ can help Green Bamboo she talked about her plans of setting up a coffee shop in the entrance of the building. This would provide much needed income to help feed, clothe and organise any necessary paperwork. The cost of a franchise here in Vietnam is much lower than in western countries (less than $2000USD). With this, Lieu would be given equipment, training and everything needed to run a successful Vietnamese coffee house. It would also provide vocational opportunities for the boys who are older than 16. I would love to be able to ensure a consistent income and safe future for the boys. Green Bamboo is located in a bustling alleyway, off a busy street, next to a youth hostel in District 1, a great location for a much needed drink for a great cause. Let’s make this happen!
Below is the current entrance to the centre which is the proposed location of the coffee shop.
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