Oct 14, 2016

Help change a life this festive season

Students and staff at the launch of YCI Vietnam
Students and staff at the launch of YCI Vietnam

Thank you for your support!

It's been a busy three months at REACH and we have a lot to update you on. Just last month, we launched our fourth (and largest) Youth Career Initiative (YCI), with nearly 50 disadvantaged students from around Vietnam. Among this batch of new students was Tran Bich Thuy, a young woman who was raised at a Catholic orphanage in Gia Lai Province (you can read more here).

We also launched two new classes: a 3D-modelling class in partnership with IT firm BR24, which will give successful graduates the opportunity to work with BR24 and other leading graphic design firms, and a cooking class that will provide essential cooking and food preparation skills.

But with just two months until Christmas, there is still so much work to be done. While the rest of world celebrates this festive season, many disadvantaged youth across Vietnam will continue to struggle without unemployment, enduring poor living standards and negative effects such as poor esteem and low confidence.

It is this reason why we are more motivated than ever to continue our work but we need your help.

Below, you’ll find some inspiring student stories from our centres in central Vietnam. With your support, we can help change the lives of many more youths just like Diem and Thang.  

Diem - Housekeeping - 19 – Danang

Diem always dreamed of having a job she loved. Especially a stable job that wouldn't leave her wondering when her next pay cheque would arrive.  But this was the reality for her and mother. Diem's father abandoned her mother soon after she was born. Her mother, a public cleaner on a salary of just $130US/month, raised her alone.

Life had always been a struggle, but Diem says this has made her a resilient person and that she knows how to persevere even when times are tough. Despite studying hard and graduating high school, Diem never had the option to pursue her dream of studying at university. Instead, she helped her mother with her work as a café waiter and hospital cleaner. The work was hard, uncertain and paid as little as $50USD/month.

Diem found out about REACH through a friend, and signed up to study housekeeping at REACH’s Danang centre. “It was not what I expected at all. It was great to study with other students with a similar background and to be in a respectful and sharing environment,” said Diem. “I also felt very well looked after by the teachers, they were so caring.”

Just one month after finishing her studies, Diem’s teacher found her a full time job as a room attendant at the Richico Hotel, with a salary of $150USD/month plus benefits.  “I couldn’t believe that I could get this kind of job so soon. I really love it here, the job and working environment is very supportive of me,” she said. Diem also says the salary is enough to support a comfortable life for her and her mother.

Looking back, Diem says the skills she learned at REACH helped prepare her for the work place. “I can apply what I learned at REACH everyday, which helps me be more confident. I can still get advice from my teachers which makes me feel supported, they are always encouraging me.” 

Dang - Sales & Marketing - 24 – Hue

He might only be 24, but Thang has overcome incredible odds to be where he is today. When he was just two years old, his father abandoned him and his mother to move to Saigon. Thang later heard through the grapevine that his father remarried, but he hasn’t seen or heard from his him since.

After his father’s leaving, he and his mother, a rice farmer, barely made ends meet. When he graduated from high school, Thang helped his mother on the farm. This was back-breaking, arduous work. Often starting at dawn and finishing long after the sun went down.

Thang knew that even with a university degree it would still be hard to find a good job. He began working casually as a waiter, starting in restaurants and bars in Hue. But work was unstable and despite working 12 hours a day, he earned only $40-60USD per month. 

Eventually, Thang found out about REACH after a friend encouraged him to register for REACH’s Sales and Marketing course. It was his first time in a classroom since he finished high school. "REACH had a very good vocational training center. The practical learning environment and the useful skills and knowledge helped me be more confident in applying for a job,” he said.

Since graduating, Thang has worked as a sales representative at MICOEM, a large food manufacturing company, for more than four months.  He now earns around $350USD, more than six times his income before studying at REACH.

Thang says interacting with many different customers on a daily basis has significantly improved interpersonal skills. Having a stable job has also allowed to him to take better care of his family, he said.

So what advice he would give other students thinking about studying at REACH? “We can’t choose the situation in which we are born or where we come from, but we can choose where we will end up and what we will do with our lives. Thanks to REACH, I've found a direction in my life. I know what I want to do and I want to achieve that now.”

Thank you for your support and have a safe and happy festive season!


Everyone at REACH

Tran Bich Thuy speaks about her life in Gia Lai.
Tran Bich Thuy speaks about her life in Gia Lai.
Jul 13, 2016

Making an impact, one family at a time

REACH Hue students
REACH Hue students

REACH HQ recently visited our centres in central Vietnam: in Hoi An, Hue and Danang. For us, visiting our incredible team members and our students never gets old. Why, you may ask? 

Well for starters, REACH staff are some of the most passionate people you'll ever meet. They're kind and they're friendly, as you'd expect, but most importantly, they are driven by a desire to make the world a better place and to empower disadvantaged people in their community. 

As do all our centres, our teams in central Vietnam serve an important purpose in delivering practical training in the areas of spa therapy, hospitality, sales and marketing, and IT. Although you wouldn't guess it, the developed tourism hubs of Danang, Hue and Hoi An, whilst beautiful, are within striking distance of some of Vietnam's most disadvantaged communities, including those who earn their livelihoods from agriculture and aquaculture. 

But recent droughts and environmental scandals have put many farming and fishing communities out of work, leaving few options for the young people in those communities hoping to enter the workforce. REACH has been one of many organisations to help these young people gain the skills they need to build a long term and meaningful career in the region's fast-growing industries, like tourism and hospitality. 

Below, we've compiled our best and most inspiring student stories to show you how your donations are making a life-changing impact not just on our students, but their struggling families as well. None of this would be possible without the ongoing support of you - our donors - and to you we would like to say our biggest, heartfelt thanks. 

Nguyen Thi Trieu Anh - Danang, Housekeeping Graduate

Nguyen Thi Trieu Anh’s father left when she was just 12 years old, but she still remembers him. She remembers the countless times he got drunk and beat her and her younger brother. The abuse was so frequent that when he left, she finally felt safe.

But in her father’s absence, the family struggled. Being one of the poorest households in their hometown in Quang Binh Province, her 52-year old mother couldn’t afford to send her to school and incurred debts. “I worried about our family’s future,” recalls Anh.

Not long after, Anh found about REACH from her cousin’s friend who had studied housekeeping. At first, Anh was skeptical that anyone would provide tuition for free.  But with few other options to help herself and her family, she applied.

Looking back, Anh says her favourite memory of her experience with REACH was those first two weeks of life skills training. “There were a lot of students from different areas with different local voices,” said Anh. “We didn’t understand each other at first, but after the first two weeks, we became such a close-nit group.”

Anh’s teacher was from Hue and she found his teaching style easy to understand. “He empathized with my difficulties straight away and cared a lot for us. He often gave good advice and encouraged us. I considered him my second father and I often visit him back at the school,” she said.

After graduation, Anh’s teacher got her a job working at the Green Plaza Hotel in Danang. “At first, I found it extremely difficult, and I felt depressed at times. But my manager was so enthusiastic in guiding me and my colleagues were so kind to me. Now I feel very attached to this job, I want to improve my skills more.”

Anh now earns 4 million VND per month. She remembers using her first paycheck to buy clothes for her brother. And with more experience she is hoping to earn more money to help her younger brother go to school and support her mother.

Asked what would she would tell herself two years ago, when she was first considering studying at REACH, she said: “Go study at REACH Anh. REACH will welcome you, support you and give you the confidence to get a good job.

“I don’t know how to thank REACH. I will always be grateful.” 

Ngo Van Nhuong - Hoi An, Food & Beverage Graduate

Ngo Van Nhuong knows what it’s like to grow up in a crowded house. He, his two sisters, his younger brother, his mother and his father all live together in a small 20-square meter hut just outside Hoi An ancient town. His married sister has recently moved back in to look for work. There is only one bed so Nhuong, his father and his brother sleep on the floor.

Life could have turned out very differently for Nhuong. Many boys his age that drop out of school become aimless or involved in street crime. But after dropping out of school in 8th grade, he needed a job to support his family. He found work as a mason assistant and a gardener.

Nhuong says he never wanted to be a farmer like his parents. The family barely made enough money to eat and he wanted a career. His younger sister also hoped to go to university but the family didn’t have the money.

Nhuong said he learned about REACH when his friend posted something on Facebook. “I remember what he said. It was something like: ‘Learning at REACH is so funny and memorable. I didn’t know what REACH was or what he was talking about but it sounded interesting,” he said.

He says the first time he learned to make drinks as a REACH Food & Beverage student opened his eyes to bartending as a career. “I was so curious when I learned to make drinks for first time. I tried a lot of different cocktails.

“But my most memorable experiences were my internship at Riverside, the first 4-star resort in Hoi An, and some outdoor trips with new friends.”

Fast-forward a few months and now Nhuong is a qualified, full-time bartender working at Valentino Bar in Hoi An’s tourist centre. He says around 70% are foreign clientele, which has helped him improve his English a lot.

“I didn’t know any English before I came to REACH, but now I can talk pretty well with foreign customers, especially the girls,” he says with a laugh. He has also become more confident behind the bar, and says he is known for making excellent Whiskey Sours.

Nhuong now brings home VND3.5 million per month, VND2 million of which goes to his family. He says he intends to work at Valentino for another six months before applying for a job at a 5-star hotel. In five years, he would like to open his own bar.

Looking back, Nhuong can’t believe the turn around in his life. “REACH was my start. I didn’t know any English or what a cocktail was, but they taught me those things. Before, I felt lost and had no ambitions, which worried my parents. They thought I would do drugs or not have a career.

“Now, my mother is so happy with me. I have goals now and a good job, so they don’t worry for me anymore.”


Anh at her workplace, the Green Plaza Hotel Danang
Anh at her workplace, the Green Plaza Hotel Danang
Nhuong at home in Hoi An
Nhuong at home in Hoi An
REACH Hue F&B students practice taking orders
REACH Hue F&B students practice taking orders
REACH grads working at Sunrise Resort
REACH grads working at Sunrise Resort
Apr 4, 2016

Reaching Further in 2016

Cuong with his mother Xuan at his graduation
Cuong with his mother Xuan at his graduation

Last year was definitely a year of achievement. And we hope to reach even further in 2016.

While Vietnam’s economy continues to grow, so too does the challenge to help the thousands of young people who are being left behind. These youth are living in difficult circumstances, without decent employment and without access to the opportunities available in Vietnam’s rapidly changing job market.

Our vision at REACH is to bridge this gap and provide all young people in Vietnam with the opportunities and support they need to reach their full potential. In the last 12 months, we provided 1145 students with free vocational training and helped 943 gain suitable employment. 

We continued to exceed our annual goal of helping 80% of youth achieve employment, with 83% getting a job within 6 months of graduating. But we also achieved an important milestone, providing training to more than 12,000 youth in need (12,573 to be exact) since we opened our doors in 2004.

Every REACH student has a different story to tell. We hope that these inspirational stories can help you understand more about our students: their backgrounds, the challenges they face and their hopes for the future.

Cuong’s Journey  

Before coming to REACH, Quang – who is a member of Vietnam’s Muong ethnic minority - lived with hisfamily in the poor mountainous districts of Thanh Hoa province. When his father passed away, he left home in search of paid work to support his family, moving to Binh Duong province in southern Vietnam.

Working for three years under harsh conditions, Cuong found himself no closer to achieving his dream of becoming a chef. That was until he randomly came across an article on REACH on Facebook. He immediately left Binh Duong and travelled to Hanoi to apply for REACH's Youth Career Initiative (YCI) cooking class. Months later, and much his surprise, Cuong was a cooking trainee at the Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel.

“I changed so much over six months, from having no experience in cooking to being able to hold a knife, prepare food and communicate more confidently,” Cuong said at his graduation ceremony, held at the InterContinental Hanoi in February.

"I'm so proud of Cuong - he's worked so hard and he is achieving his dream," said Cuong's mother Pham Thi Xuan, who travelled from Thanh Hoa to attend his graduation in the traditional Muong costume. 

Now, Cuong says he is looking forward to working in more challenging environments so that he can refine his cooking skills. "I have a job now. This program has helped me to develop, take care of myself and support my family better.”

Cuong, we take our hats off to you.

Cuong with his fellow REACH graduates
Cuong with his fellow REACH graduates
Cuong gets his diploma from the Hilton Hanoi GM
Cuong gets his diploma from the Hilton Hanoi GM
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