REACH

REACH is a local, Vietnamese, non-government organization specializing in vocational training and employment for Vietnam's most disadvantaged youth. Our mission is to ensure that all Vietnam Youth have the opportunities and support they need to reach their full potential.
Jan 7, 2016

A Year in Review: Inspiring Student Stories From 2015

A Web&Graphic Design graduate at her workplace
A Web&Graphic Design graduate at her workplace

At REACH, our approach to helping disadvantaged youth follows a simple formula: three months of intensive vocational training followed by six months of job placement support.

And the results speak for themselves.

In 2015, 1117 students successfully graduated from our specialised vocational training courses: hospitality, web & graphic design, sales & marketing, hairdressing and spa & beauty therapy.

However, more important than what we teach our students in their three months with us is how they use their newfound skills and knowledge to find meaningful employment and improve their quality of life.

In 2015, our students seized the opportunities presented before them, with more than 85% of students finding stable employment within six months of graduation, well above our target of 80%.

We have plenty more in store for our students in 2016 and so, in the spirit of the New Year, we would like to share with you the stories of REACH students that have inspired us and will hopefully inspire you too.

These incredible stories illustrate the disadvantaged circumstances many of our students face, their journey through the REACH program and their life after graduation.

Thuyet

Thuyet was born into a farming family of five children in a rural district of Thua Thien Hue Province. Like her siblings, she dropped out of school after finishing primary school and at the age of 13, she began her first job as a maid 16 km away from home.

For Thuyet, it was a particularly difficult time in her life.

"I would cry seeing other children go to school and spend time with their family while I had to work,” said Thuyet. “Every night I dreamt of being a normal school girl and then I would wake up in the morning disappointed.”

But after three years working as a maid, Thuyet began searching for a new job. She soon started her second job as a shop seller but was promptly fired for her lack of education. She desperately applied at other shops but none would hire her.

It was then that she learned about a nearby REACH vocational training center through a friend.

"I worried that I wouldn’t be accepted because of my educational background,” she said. “However, after talking to the teacher, I knew I’d have a chance and for the first time I had hope.”

The following week, Thuyet received her acceptance letter from REACH, offering her three months of free vocational training in the Beauty and Spa Therapy course.

Following graduation, Thuyet was introduced by her teacher to a small spa. She worked hard and was eager to put her newfound knowledge and skills into practice.

After only a month, Thuyet was asked to apply for a job at the Eldora Hotel – a 4-star hotel in Hue city. She was offered a full-time job with a starting salary of $200 per month – her hard work had finally paid off.

"When I found out, the first person I called was my teacher at REACH,” said Thuyet. “I couldn’t believe it, I was crying. She changed my life.”

Now, Thuyet says her only remaining wish is to meet the donors who funded her time at REACH. “I want to thank them for making my dream comes true."

Khang

At the age of 23, Khang decided he wanted to study web and graphic design. For Khang, who was living with a physical disability, his study options were limited. But given a chance to choose a different career path, Khanh wouldn’t choose anything else.

At just 15 Khanh underwent surgery for a brain tumour. The surgery, however, was so complex that it caused hemiplegia. Paralysed on one side of his body, Khang had stopped schooling for a year to recover at home.

Although Khang was soon able to walk again, he trembled and couldn’t move his left hand. In spite of this, Khang - like any other child his age - was eager to get back to school and see his friends.

But bad luck struck again when Khang had to undergo brain surgery a second time, and the medical costs left his family broke. The income from the family farm and his father’s construction work was not enough to feed the family.

Khang later dropped out of school before finishing grade 11.

It wasn’t long, however, before Khanh was packing up his life in the country and starting a new life in Hanoi as a student at REACH. He knew the challenges would be great and that the road to finding a job would not be easy.

“All I wanted was to get a job after I graduated,” said Khanh. “This is a simple dream but it was my biggest dream.”

But more than achieving his own dream of finding a job, Khanh also wanted to show his parents that he could be financially independent and responsible.

Three months later, Khang graduated from REACH as a fully qualified graphic designer and landed his first full-time job at Esoftflow, a reknowned graphic design company in Hanoi.

He hopes that his story can show other students from disadvantaged backgrounds that they too can achieve their goals. “We need to take full responsibility for whatever we do,” said Khanh. “So said, so done.”

Thuyet prepares meal at home
Thuyet prepares meal at home
Hairdressing training
Hairdressing training
Jun 26, 2015

Students mobilization

These boats are where many migrant families live
These boats are where many migrant families live

This is the story of Hang Nguyen, Youth Career Initiative Coordinator at REACH.

During 2 years working at REACH, I have visited many students’ families. They all have different difficult circumstances, creating a long-lasting impression in my mind. What I remember the most would be the time when I carried out student mobilization event at a slum area in An Xa commune, near Long Bien Bridge.

The place locates by Red River.  This is the habitat of many migrants.  People here live in sentry-boxes, small boats, or temporary houses. In rainy season, when the water level goes up, those houses are flooded.  In those houses, there is mostly no furniture. People living by the river use the water for their daily life activities such as taking a bath or washing clothes.

To reach the area, I had to walk through a corn field. I felt unsafe because the area was built on by alluvia soil from the river. Therefore, the ground was soft and I would get stuck in the sand.  Here and there were garbage dumps, creating stingy smell during summer time.

I met Ms.Ngot, the president of club for migrants in the area. She says that many kids here do not have a birth certificates or ID cards. They grow up like wide grass and have never attended schools. This area is also a hot spot of social evils such as drug addicts or violence.

Ms. Ngot helped me gather people to attend communication session on REACH’s free vocational training program. We expected that there would be some youth, our targeted group, showing up. However, there were only small children and elderly people. Because it was day time, all of the young people here were away to earn a living.

They worked in junction markets, being sellers or porters. Their earning is small, which is just enough to live by the day. For those youth, their life is a continuous reel of work. As soon as they stop it, they would have to skip meals for the next day. Therefore, asking  those youth to invest three months to join a vocational training program like REACH’s is a challenging job, even if the program is free and will give them much better job opportunities.

The visit was a long time ago. Until now, thinking about it still gives me goose bumps.  I have visited many places and met many people, who are living in poverty. But it is hard to believe that there are still people struggling with surviving through day in a place as Long Bien slum area, which is just 2 kilometers away from the center of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

Garbage dumps along walking path
Garbage dumps along walking path
Meeting with elderly people in the area
Meeting with elderly people in the area
Inside a temporary house
Inside a temporary house
Mar 27, 2015

Beauty spa and Makeup class

Students practice body massage
Students practice body massage

Starting in November 2014, REACH’s very first Beauty Spa and Makeup class has graduated from our new Beauty Spa and Makeup facility in Hue. 

The first class, consisting of 13 female and 5 male students from disadvantaged backgrounds started the course in November 2014 and studied for over three months. Over the course of these 3 months, students were provided technical training in Beauty Spa and Makeup as well as life and job readiness skills. Students also undertook English classes that were provided by the REACH English teachers.  

Students graduating from this course can generally expect to work in hotel spas, beauty salons and wedding studios. Of the 18 students enrolled in our first class, 17 have already found jobs and are earning an average salary of ~3 million dong (US$140) per month. Furthermore, 8 of these students are working at 4 and 5 star hotels including the Imperal, Eldora and Anna Mandara.

Linh, one of the students graduating from the course said “I like studying here because the training helps me become more confident. I have learnt many life skills, enabling me to communicate better and have the necessary skills to adapt myself to the working environment. Moreover, the program gives me better awareness about my career and my life. Most importantly, I am equipped with professional skills and am supported in finding a suitable job”.

Personal makeup
Personal makeup

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