Rally Indochina Charity Ride


Charley Boorman riding with Explore Indochina
For Charley Boorman: Freedom Riders, Charley visited our garage, rode one of our 650cc Urals, visited the Blue Dragon, and even joined our charity rally.


The orgainsers of the first rally in 2011
Starting the 2011 Rally
In 2010, Digby Greenhalgh and Mark Wyndham decided to start a charity rally to raise money for the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. Vietnam was such an important part of their lives that they thought it only fair to give something back to a country they loved so much and to people less fortunate than themselves.

From the outset, they distanced themselves from the actual donation side of the Rally. Participants had to donate directly to Blue Dragon, and that would then allow them to join the Rally Indochina ride. That way, everything was as straight as an arrow.

Blue Dragon is staffed primarily by volunteers and runs a tight financial book, which meant donations made to it did not get lost in administration fees. Blue Dragon promised that the money raised by Rally Indochina would go directly to the particular projects that the Rally visited. Rally Indochina wanted to help Blue Dragon fight human trafficking in Vietnam, which meant supporting various schools and health centres on the battlefront.


Piles of garments
Poorly lit factories
An uncomfortable working environment
Vietnam has a huge problem involving traffickers that approach poor communities and offer work and board for young children in Ho Chi Minh City factories, typically clothing sweatshops. They lie to the parents that the children will be cared for and receive vocational training, good lodging, and a small wage. In practice, however, the children are exploited, receive inferior food, sleep 15 to a room, and rarely have free time to go outside. The children know no better and can be as young as eight. They perform menial jobs such as cutting and sewing clothes and have no social life. It is a terrible situation.

In the early 2010s, the traffickers targeted poor fishing villages near Hue. Blue Dragon knew the only solution was to educate and warn parents not to be duped by the traffickers. To that end, Blue Dragon established a health centre in conjunction with the Vietnam Red Cross Foundation, which provided free health care and warnings and notices about the risk of trafficking. Blue Dragon community workers visited villages and warned parents to be on the lookout for the traffickers. The work proved so successful that the traffickers no longer targeted fishing villages near Hue and instead headed up to the border with Laos , near Dien Bien Phu, to target impoverished hill-tribe communities who knew no better.

The traffickers then followed a similar pattern. They would promise work, training, food, and board, which was attractive to poor hill-tribe families. However, once again, instead of caring for the children, the traffickers forced them into cruel labour conditions, and the children suffered for it. Blue Dragon again worked with local authorities, this time to establish a number of kindergartens in the mountains, to gain the trust of local people and provide a way for them to warn local families of the perils of listening to the lies told to them by the traffickers. Once again, this effort proved successful, forcing the traffickers to move to Ha Giang, another remote region near the border with China.


Cheque ceremony in 2013
Rally Indochina proved to be an effective method to raise significant funds directly for the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation to support their fight against child trafficking. Our motto was “Great Ride. Great Cause”.
All told, ten events were organised, and just short of US$250,000 was raised for Blue Dragon.

All these donations went directly to Blue Dragon with no strings attached. The Rally organisers knew that an exciting, historical and colourful motorcycle ride would be a fantastic way to raise interest in such an endeavour.

Funds raised by the Rally went towards constructing schools, housing, food, counselling, community activities, and roads in remote areas.
These rides through back-country Vietnam on motorcycles were always beautiful experiences. Aside from spectacular scenery, friendly people, fantastic food and comfortable lodgings, the Rally provided an insight into people’s lives deep in the Vietnamese mountains.

One of the goals of the Rally was to allow participants to return home with a deeper understanding of Vietnam, both past and present, and a strong feeling of having made a direct contribution to local children not as fortunate as themselves.


Charlie Boorman joins us in 2013
Begining of Rally Indochina 2012
The first five rallies headed south from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An because traffickers targeted vulnerable fishing villages near Hue. Charlie Boorman joined the first day of Rally Indochina 2013 while filming a TV series called Freedom Riders Asia. During each Rally, we visited a healthcare centre and learnt about its activities. Time was set aside to meet children, hear stories of their lives and see how they had learnt to be wary of outside traffickers promising them a better life.

In Hue, Rally Indochina helped fund the construction of a road to allow local people better access to job opportunities. The Rally also supported the local health clinic established by Blue Dragon.


Waving children in 2017
Visiting a kindergarten in 2017
Top of Mount Fansipan in 2016
Blue Dragon’s efforts were so successful that the traffickers were forced to shift their concentration to distant hill-tribe areas near the Chinese border. From 2016 onwards, Rally Indochina headed northwest from Hanoi into Dien Bien Phu Province.

Rally Indochina visited kindergartens and local craft production centres that Blue Dragon had established in the countryside, allowing Rally participants to see first-hand how their donations were spent.

In Dien Bien Phu, Rally Indochina financed two kindergartens in remote locations. One provided education for an impoverished hill-tribe community that lived in an area with bad soil and little water. The other was located at a very remote kindergarten at the top of a hill and the end of a small track. In both instances, the Rally helped pay for playground equipment, salaries and a water purification machine.


Hmong children perform for Rally participants in 2023
Remote shool that the Rally supported Ha Giang in 2023
Once again, the traffickers were forced to pack up shop and move to a different location, this time up near the Chinese border in Ha Giang Province.

In Ha Giang, the Rally supported the construction of a kindergarten high up in the rocky karst mountains. A cement forecourt was funded, and playground equipment was bought.

On the last Rally in 2023, over 50 H’mong children and their parents were on hand to welcome us to their new kindergarten. It was a truly moving experience when they sang songs for us and showed us how to stay away from strangers.


Michael Brosowski, the founder of the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation
Rally rider visiting a kindergarten
The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, founded in 2002 by Michael Brosowski, has rescued over 1,350 children from textile factories and over 650 girls from brothels and forced marriages.

The Foundation is a Hanoi-based charity that assists children in escaping poverty by providing various services such as rescue from sex trafficking, slavery and forced labour and providing housing, employment and education.

Blue Dragon is a grassroots foundation working with children in crisis throughout Vietnam. The Foundation’s residential facilities, centres and programs provide children and youth with a new chance in life: the chance to have a home, a good education, and a happy, stable life.
The Foundation aims to break the poverty cycle by offering education, training and job opportunities to those who need them the most: street kids, child victims of trafficking and the rural poor.

With education at the heart of everything they do, the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation sets out to transform the lives of the poorest children and families. The children it supports come from many backgrounds, but all are in difficult circumstances and need a chance to make a change.

In Hanoi, Blue Dragon runs a drop-in centre for street kids to play, shower, study, and participate in social activities.

In addition to providing direct services, Blue Dragon trains government authorities on topics such as human trafficking and child abuse and collaborates with legislators to modify and strengthen the country’s child-related legal framework.

Blue Dragon achieves its aims using professional Vietnamese staff and long-term international volunteers.

They meet the kids on the streets, at their workplaces, or in their homes and work with them until they can stand on their own feet and live happy, prosperous lives.

The range of services to children includes:
• Social workers.
• Child rights advocacy.
• Psychological services.
• Accommodation.
• School fee relief.
• Vocational training.
• Employment counselling.
• A drop-in centre.


End of ride party in 2011
Final dinner in 2017
Blue Dragon’s record is awe-inspiring. By October 2023, they had:

• Rescued 1,388 people from trafficking.
• Represented 256 people in court cases.
• Sent 6,305 kids back to school and training.
• Provided shelter to 1,618 girls and boys.
• Placed 442 teens in jobs.
• Served 665,725 meals.
• Built 262 homes for families.
• Reunited 764 runaways with their families.
• Obtained legal papers for 13,543 people.


Playing with the kids in 2017
“All I can say is: you have to do this ride to say you have lived. The food, scenery, cause and staff make this one of the top bucket-list items you have to do. You have not seen Vietnam until you have seen it by motorcycle. The staff, guides, food and mechanics make this one hell of a ride, and I would recommend it to all who are passionate about riding one of the world’s great rides.” Adrian Mann, Australia

“A final note of thanks for your great support during Rally Indochina. You are fantastic people, and I enjoyed meeting and knowing you. The trip will remain a long and fulfilling memory. Fulton Smith, Australia

“It should be us thanking you for the great trip, Blue Dragon being the best reason for doing it, great roads, great hotels, the best group of people, brilliant mechanics (who we used our share of), oh and great guides what more can you ask for!!” Anne Ogilvie, Australia

“Thanks to the whole crew for making the rally such an enjoyable experience. I saw places in Vietnam I never knew existed! Phong Nha and Paradise Cave, the whole Ho Chi Minh Trail through the magnificent karst, were amazing. Rough roads and mud made the experience a little more challenging than the usual ride around the countryside… And thanks to everyone on the rally for being such a relaxed, friendly group to ride with.” Phil Barnaart, Australia

Thank you for helping us make Rally Indochina 2014 even bigger and better. Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation will use the funds you’ve contributed to further their fight against the trafficking of children. We couldn’t do it without you! Michael Brosowski


Signing the cheque in 2023
• 2011: 14 people rode from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and raised $43,200
• 2012: 26 people rode from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and raised $61,000
• 2013: 18 people rode from Hanoi to Hoi An and raised $47,165.
• 2014: 10 people rode from Hanoi to Hoi An and raised $24,300.
• 2015: 4 people rode from Hanoi to Hoi An and raised $1,500.
• 2016: 18 people rode from Hanoi to Hoi An and raised $11,000.
• 2017: 13 people rode from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu and raised $14,414.
• 2018: 5 rode people from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu and raised $3,500.
• 2019: 14 people rode from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu and raised $13,400.
• 2023: 12 people rode from Hanoi to Ha Giang and raised $37,715.

Total Raised: US$257,194

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Picture of Digby Greenhalgh

By Digby Greenhalgh

Digby Greenhalgh is the founder of Explore Indochina, and a recognized expert on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. All motorcycle tours are designed and guided by Digby.