Australian Michael Brosowski has not only donated money but also devoted his full time to helping as many as 2,629 Vietnamese street kids.
Michael Brosowski and the Vietnamese children he helps
2,629 kids mean 2,629 unfortunate stories untold and also 2,629 new lives revived in Việt Nam.
“He saved not one life but thousands of lives, no matter how depraved and addicted they were”, admired Trần Xuân Phát, director of the Red Cross Society in the central Thừa Thiên – Huế Province.
While drinking coffee, Brosowski, who was named a ‘CNN Hero of the Year’ in 2011, recalled what his friends used to say in the early days:
“Michael, you cannot do anything for them.
Look at those children out there on the street.
What can you do for all of them only with yourself?”
However, over time, Brosowski has brought a real – life fairy tale to Vietnamese children living in poverty.
The day of fate
He first arrived in Hồ Chí Minh City in 1999.
After leaving the city, Brosowski went to live and work in Hanoi as a teacher at the National Economics University.
One day, while having dinner along Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Brosowski eyed the diner’s waiter, who was only a ragged kid, working hard with a red face thanks to fever and chicken-pox.
He nearly fainted from being pressed by the diner owner.
That image moved Brosowski and his Vietnamese friend, Phạm Sĩ Trung, to tears.
Therefore, they immediately asked to take the poor boy to the drugstore nearby.
On the way, Brosowski found out that the boy’s name is Kiều, and that he had to quit studying and leave his hometown in the central Nam Định Province in order to find a job in Hà Nội.
He asked the boy:
“If you had a little money, would you go back to your hometown and continue your studies?”
Kiều immediately nodded in agreement.
Since that day, Brosowski has never stopped being obsessed by the idea of helping street children escape from their awful lives.
Therefore, not long after that, he and Trung opened a free English class in his rented room in Cầu Giấy District and convinced many street kids to participate with free Cokes.
Michael Brosowski and the children in the Blue Dragon Housey
Michael even went to Thừa Thiên – Huế with Tạ Ngọc Vân, one of his Vietnamese friends, to look for some of the kids’ families and told them every problem their children were facing in far Hanoi.
The parents cried a lot and implored Brosowski to bring their children back, which is also the ‘Hero’s purpose’.
Since that day, he and his friends have travelled all over the country to look for unfortunate kids and bring them home.
Patiently, they contact children one by one, give them a telephone to talk with their parents, and convince them to go back.
However, it is not always easy to do this work.
Brosowski and his friends are often attacked and cursed by the people who hire these kids.
Sometimes, they even want to take them to the authorities.
However, these predators had no reply when Brosowski and Vân concurred, “We also want to report this case to local authorities. Come with us.”
Furthermore, they are repeatedly asked about their purpose and have to explain what they are doing to local authorities every time they go to a new province.
Not only street kids but also those who were abused as prisoners have been rescued.
Many of them are girls rescued from sexual exploitation in the Vietnamese – Chinese border area.
“Many of them have social diseases.
When I look into their eyes, I feel pain as if I am the one with the disease,” Brosowski emotionally shared.
Day by day, the ‘hero’ not only appears to rescue them but also to provide safe housing, food subsidies, school sponsorship, job training and medical attention at “Ngôi nhà cười” (Smiling House), located at 131 Hồng Hà Street.
The facility is home to thousands of homeless children.
Brosowski especially cares about their education and English, which will give them a brighter future.
To give Brosowski a hand, many sponsors, such as Mrs. Alison Kember, the former New Zealand ambassador’s wife, have donated money in addition to teaching living skills and English.
Since 2003, a bigger center named Blue Dragon was officially opened after a previous period of preparations and has become the home of many more unfortunate children from everywhere in the country.
As the son of a poverty-stricken family that made a living by raising goats, Michael Brosowski had a childhood that was far from comfort and pleasure.
He lived on a farm 600 kilometers away from Sydney.
Every day, he had to walk for an hour to catch the school bus, which drove him another 30 kilometers to school.
“I grew up on a poor farm and only had goats and trees to play with during my childhood”, Michael shared.
“I think I can deeply sympathize with unfortunate Vietnamese children because I can see my own image via them”, he added.