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Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth

by REACH
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth

When it rains in Vietnam, the rain is so heavy that it can wash away whole mountains, clear the most densely packed street in the blink of an eye, and wake a whole city by rapidly thumping on its thin tin roofs.

And sometimes when it rains in Vietnam, it floods and when it floods, the floodwaters can be fierce and wild and unruly and can be so powerful and move with such force that they can pick a man up whole and carry him away forever.

This is not unusual; this is what happened to Anh’s father, on a rainy night, while he was out buying rice to feed his hungry family.

When the floods carried Anh’s father away she was only seven but the magnitude of the event rippled throughout her whole life.

Anh’s father left behind his mother, a wife, three small children, a small thatched cottage, and a handful of small plots of farming land. Anh’s mother was forced to toil endlessly in the fields every day, rain, hail, or shine to feed their family of five.

My mom never stopped working… even when she was sick,” Anh says.

But all that hard work took its toll. The health of Anh’s mother deteriorated quickly.

Despite Anh dropping out of school to help her mother work the farm the damage was already done. Tumors were found in Anh’s mother’s stomach and to make matters worse, they were found in Anh’s stomach too!

Both women would need surgery to remove the tumors and surgery, in Vietnam, can be costly.

“We couldn’t afford the operations for both of us, so my mother decided to spend all the money we had on my treatment,” Anh remembers. “She accepted the tumors as a burden she would have to bear.”

Anh recovered and became the main provider for her family.

“I used to work 10 hours a day, every day, in a food processing factory just to earn a measly four million dongs,” Anh says. “I was still quite weak after my surgery and the endless overtime made me exhausted. But I had to. I had no other choice.”

Anh heard about the REACH training schools through her cousin. It seemed like a dream at the time. How could someone who had grown up in circumstances not unlike her own afford to go to school and learn a trade?

“His story about REACH was unbelievable. I had never heard of any school providing free training and job placement,” Anh says. She was full of doubt but if her cousin could do it, she could do it… or at least she had to try.

Anh made her way to REACH and enrolled in a hairdressing course. She was very excited and keen to learn everything that she could but luck, as it is wont to do, had other plans.

Two weeks into her course, Anh’s mother once again fell ill. Anh was facing the possibility that she may have to drop out of school but she knew these opportunities were few and far between. She had to do everything and anything that she could to avoid leaving. She could leave no stone unturned in her quest for a better life.

Fortunately, before taking any drastic measures, Anh chose to talk with her teacher. She was encouraged not to drop out but instead to complete the training. Recognizing that Anh was at-risk her teacher also arrange for an extra 1.5 million dong each month from REACH to support her and her family so that she could get the education that she wanted. The education that she needed. The education that she deserved.

Anh completed her course with flying colors. She now works at KOKO salon in Hanoi. She now works less and earns more than she ever could at that food packing factory.

“Everything I learned at REACH, I could apply at work immediately. In my first month of working, I earned 6 million dongs. I received praise from the customers and I even got a few tips! I feel very happy and very satisfied with the job.”

Anh has a new lease on life and is excited about the future.

“I needed to have a professional skill so that I could get a stable job. Studying hairdressing provided me with a solid skill that allows me to work flexibly anywhere that I want.”

Anh is just one of many young people that REACH, with support from our donors and business partners, has helped REACH their full potential and for that, we say, Thank-you!

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The Transforming Lives Awards identifies and supports excellent nonprofits and social enterprises driving sustainable livelihood programs across Asia, Africa and Latin America 

 Hanoi, Vietnam-- August 7, 2019 -- Alquity and Philanthropy U today announced REACH will receive a $60,000 grant as a 2019 Transforming Lives Awards winner. The organization joins seven other winners being recognized for their excellent nonprofit or entrepreneurial work to improving livelihoods, productive employment and decent work for all. 

 The Transforming Lives Awards is inspired by the Alquity shared values business model, which has generated over US$1.9m in charitable donations and has supported the growth of sustainable livelihood programming and transformed thousands of lives across Africa, Asia and Latin America. REACH is one of the first ever winners of the Transforming Lives Awards. 

 "We are incredibly honoured to recognise the eight award winners receiving the inauguralTransforming Lives Awards;and are excited to celebrate with them all on September 9th in London." said Paul Robinson Chairman & Founder Alquity. 

 Over 600 social impact organizations applied for consideration beginning in October 2018 last Fall via Philanthropy University, a free online learning platform that upskills and funds social impact organizations. Eligible organizations entered into an interactive, peer-to-peer vetting process that included a first-of-its-kind prompt for peer organizations to help determine top candidates; 100 organizations passed and advanced to the next stage where they were asked to formally apply. 

 Regional judging panels - comprised half of regional social impact experts - then narrowed the candidate pool from 30 shortlisted organisations to 16 finalists. A panel of eight Global Judges determine the winning eight organizations earlier this month. 

 “Winning the Transforming Lives Award is recognition of the hard work put in by all staff members at REACH to fulfil REACH’s mission of training disadvantaged youth in demand driven skills. REACH’s programs create a sustainable, positive socio-economic impact in the lives of young people and their families. We, at REACH, are happy and proud to have won the “Transforming Lives” award. The award increases our responsibility towards disadvantaged communities in Vietnam,” said Tam Pham Thi Thanh, Executive Director of REACH Vietnam.

 Winners join a special winners “cohort” on the Philanthropy University platform that will be given exclusive programming that encourages peer-to-peer learning, skills building and networking for improved outcomes. 

“REACH shined throughout the entire process and demonstrated to us, the regional panel and peer organizations the incredible impact, and potential, of its programming,” said Connor Diemand-Yauman, co-founder and CEO of Philanthropy U. “We are grateful for the opportunity for winners to use our learning platform to continue learning, networking and accessing resources to make the most of their funding award.” 

 

About REACH

REACH is a Vietnamese nonprofit organization specializing in vocational training, career advice, and job placement services for disadvantaged Vietnamese youth. REACH has six locations around Vietnam and trains over 1000 young people annually. These students include young people who have grown up in poverty, who are living with disabilities, and victims of human trafficking among many others. 

Over ten years REACH has trained over 16,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 30. Of those, we have placed more than 80% in stable in employment and REACH graduates earn almost 20% more than the national minimum wage. 

 About Alquity: 

Alquity is an asset management business investing in high-growth markets across the world. Its goal is to connect investors to their investments and social progress in order to deliver better financial outcomes for all. Its investments target attractive returns across Africa, Asia, and Latin America through portfolios that include transparent companies, with effective management that is aligned with shareholders. Alquity funds are therefore responsible by design, targeting consistent out-performance whilst contributing to long-term growth. 

Encapsulated in Alquity’ unique business model is the commitment to donate 10% of its management fees generated to development projects in the regions in which it invests via the Alquity Transforming Lives Foundation. The organisation wants to create opportunities for individuals and communities to enable grown from bottom up, fuelling what is they call the Alquity virtuous circle. Alquity’s donations building fairer and more sustainable economies where the companies they invest in also prosper.   

 About Philanthropy U: 

Philanthropy University is a free online learning platform that uses technology to upskill, connect, and fund local social impact organizations in under-resourced communities. We deliver practical learning and support, where it matters most, through world-class online courses, peer-to-peer knowledge exchange and funding opportunities. Ultimately, we act as a catalyst for long-term systemic change only possible by bringing measurable efficiency to the frontlines, globally. 

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In May, REACH staff underwent a sensitivity training course to gain a better understanding of the issues LGBT students may face.

A number of students identify as LGBT and this can make life difficult in conservative Vietnam.

The course, was run by Centre Manager, Ms Hang, who stressed the importance of providing a safe and inclusive environment at REACH.

“At REACH we accept students from all walks of life and expect that they are all treated with dignity and respect,” she said.

In attendance were two former students who identify as LGBT. They participated in a round table discussion to answer questions and offer insight into the Vietnamese LGBT community.

“In Vietnam there are many courageous LGBT youths. But some of them still want to hide,” said one.

A 2014 United Nations Development Program (UNDP) found that “LGBT people often face prejudices and are marginalised in schools” in Viêt Nam.

The same report also found that employers in Viêt Nam frequently discriminate against LGBT job applicants.

The seminar stressed the importance of inclusivity and anti-discrimination. It also covered how staff should address concerns raised by LGBT students and support networks available to students.

“REACH is a safe space,” Hang said. “Students should feel comfortable coming to school regardless of their sexual orientation and making sure our staff have the right information about LGBT issues is key to our success.”

At REACH we pride ourselves on the diversity of our student body. From street kids to victims of human trafficking and, of course, LGBT youth we deal with a whole range of students affected by a broad range of social issues. Staff training is essential to making sure these students feel at home and included.

You can support staff training programs like this and create more opportunities for LGBT youth by donating to our GlobalGiving campaign here: https://www.globalgiving.org/donate/11762/reach/

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Nguyen Huu Hoàng Tùng is the web coding teacher at REACH. He has an unmatched passion for teaching IT and loves his work.

“From a young age, I have been passionate about education development for children and youth, as I believe that it is the key to transforming our country’s socio – economic status.”

He’s been working at REACH since 2017 and came on board to start the web coding course. Since then he has trained three batches of students with fifty graduates. Of those graduates 90% have gone on to find gainful employment in the IT industry.

The path, however, for the students can be difficult and long.

“REACH works with the most disadvantaged youth across Vietnam. Most are exposed to very little technology; many have never even used a computer before I meet them.  Among these students there are a number of those with disabilities.”

That said, when they do graduate it can be richly rewarding.

“Although it may be impossible for them to walk, or even just do the daily things needed for life like everyone else, they are able to learn from me and afterwards get a job in the IT field. It’s an amazing transformation.”

Mr Tùng is currently teaching his fourth batch of students and continues to fight discrimination by upskilling local youths and setting them on the road to success.

“Working and witnessing their growth and strength every day, in turn, has inspired me to continue doing this work. I believe that, through this job, I am not only able to help change the lives of disadvantaged youth in a sustainable way, but I can also contribute to the development of an inclusive economy for my country. There is still some discrimination here and through my work I hope to be able to change this.”

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Dang knew the feeling of being completely and utterly alone before most people should. At the age of 11, her mother passed away, her father walked on the family, and her two older sisters were unable to financially support her. As a result, she was forced to drop out of school in ninth grade before picking up various odd jobs in order support herself. She did everything from loading bricks to waitressing at restaurants, only for a meager 3 million VND/month.

As she worked tirelessly at these jobs, she kept hoping and dreaming for bigger and better. For the longest time her dream was to move out of her hometown of Quang Ninh to the capital city of Hanoi and open up her own cosmetics store. It was through a fellow friend and alumnus of the program that she came to know about REACH. Seeing that REACH offered a course at the Hanoi Center for Sales and Marketing, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make her longtime dreams come true.

Once she started attending classes at the REACH Center Hanoi, she was impressed and amazed by the REACH community. She found that the most impressive thing was the dedication of the teachers. “Because I lost my mother when I was young, I have been deprived of the emotional support of a mother. Yet the teachers at REACH were always there for me.” she says, “They taught me little by little, step by step, how to control my emotions.” This community at REACH is what motivated Dang to finish her studies and desire a better life.

At REACH, Dang not only went through the Sales and Marketing vocational course, but was also supported in areas of soft skill training, English, basic computer skills, and green skills. She says that aside from learning a great deal in the classroom, she gained a lot of general insight and wisdom about life from simply spending time with teachers and other students at the REACH center. The best piece of advice she remembers that her teacher gave her is about being open-minded and thinking positively... "if you are not flexible and willing to change the way you think, then you will never succeed in life." Fast forward and it has been about six months since Dang graduated from REACH.

However, the support and mentorship of REACH staff is far from over. After beginning to work, Dang realized that there is a big difference between the expectations and reality of having a job…working is hard! Dang says that she has already dealt with many obstacles and difficult situations— for example, customers can be rude and demeaning and because she has to work from 9 am to 10 pm six days a week, she barely has any time for herself. When she hits these low points, Dang knows that her teachers from REACH will tell her to keep her head up and this strength drives her to keep going. Dang says that after studying at REACH her perspective on life has changed— she can see her life conditions a bit more clearly and now with a job, can pay to support herself.

Before REACH she was always stressed because she felt like her social skills were lacking. She didn’t have any friends and had trouble communicating with others. Now, she says she has gained a lot of confidence and has many friends— in fact, she currently shares an apartment with two friends from REACH. Post-REACH, she found a job in sales. She now works at Kitch Made in Vietnam where her basic salary as a saleswoman is 3,750,000 VND/month. With commission, her salary ends up somewhere between 8 to 10 million VND/month, almost 3 times her salary prior to attending REACH.

Her long-term goal is still to open her own cosmetics store but she knows that it is going to be a while before she gets there. Her final message to people reading this? "If you want to get a job and you want to change your life, you need to learn about REACH. I wouldn’t have known what the world has to offer me if I didn’t attend REACH."

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Organization Information

REACH

Location: Hanoi, Hanoi City - Vietnam
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
REACH VIETNAM
Hanoi, Vietnam
$49,219 raised of $60,000 goal
 
530 donations
$10,781 to go
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