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
Nhuong at home in Hoi An
REACH Hue F&B students practice taking orders
REACH grads working at Sunrise Resort