Founded by Pastor Pham Duc Trung from The Blessings Church in 2013, Green Dreams provides a home for just a few of the thousands of orphans living in Hanoi. According to a research project by Boston University in collaboration with Hanoi School of Public Health, there were over 1.5 million orphans living in Vietnam about a decade ago. Vietnam’s population increased from 85.1 million in 2008 to 92.7 million in 2016. Without doubt, the number of orphans in the country has grown too.
Before his role in the church, Pastor Trung struggled with drug addiction for 11 years. When he was a child his mother left home, leaving him in the care of his father. “I didn’t get much support from my family so I felt like an orphan,” he says. “When I became a teenager I wasn’t very good and started using drugs.”
He overcame his addiction when he found salvation through Christ and dedicated his life to serving God. This included going to bible school and becoming a pastor, assisting other former drug addicts and providing food and ministering to street children.
“We cooked twice a week for the kids and gave them small bibles. When we took them to church they were happy because they felt like they had a family,” he says. “Their living conditions were not good. It’s difficult to become a good person in the future with this sort of lifestyle.”
A New Family
Pastor Trung had a vision to create a home in which he would adopt, raise, care, educate and provide for these cast-off children. He wanted to give them the family they never had and a chance for a better life. Incredibly, his brother (who was living in Canada at the time) had a similar vision and offered finances to fund this dream. With financial support in place, Pastor Trung adopted two boys and a month later another five.
Today, Green Dreams Orphanage is home to 21 boys aged between seven and 19. There is one permanent staff member who takes care of the children and nine church members who assist. Most of these care takers are also former drug addicts who have turned their lives around.
“Each of the assistants have experience of brokenness and a similar past so they can empathise with the children,” says Pastor Trung. “They understand what the children think and what they need.”
Many of the children at Green Dreams come from remote villages in regions surrounding Hanoi. People in these areas are often very poor, drug addicts, have unstable relationships and resort to leaving the country. As a result, many children grow up in broken homes or without parents. They relocate to the city to find work and often end up living on the street.
Not only does Green Dreams offer these children a home and a new life but also a family. “I feel so grateful because at home, my parents don’t love me, but here [I have] new parents. They are Pastor Trung and his wife, who love me so dearly,” says Vang A Chang, a 14-year-old boy who was adopted in 2014.
Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel