Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth

Coding class
Coding class

In 2017, after a long period of research into market demand and real-world conditions of REACH students, we designed the Web Coding course with the intention of helping these students find a good job. 

Nowadays, Digital Technology is developing more and more, leading to a high demand for technical skills such as Web Coding. These jobs require strong professional skills and students need to be trained to be able to meet market demand and earn a very attractive salary. In addition, these jobs do not require much physical movement which makes them extremely suitable for young people with leg disabilities or difficulty in traveling.

 REACH has decided to open the "Web Coding" class at REACH Hanoi with enthusiastic support from students. Currently, the first course consists of 14 trainees. Teachers and students are very focused and dedicated to teaching and learning so that after 6 months graduates will have good professional skills and be ready for a better future.

 With the ongoing efforts of our teachers and REACH staff, we will continue to monitor, evaluate and improve this course, adding a valuable alternative to this vocational orientation for the future.

 REACH would like to sincerely thank our sponsors and businesses for their contribution to this meaningful course!

In other updates, KOI Bento - a Social Enterprise initiative in which 100% of profits help disadvantaged young people studying at REACH - is just launched. 

KOI Bento provides the service of Japanese lunch-box delivery. The preparation of KOI Bento is done by REACH cooking students and so provides them with an opportunity to improve their skills in a business environment. Most foods which make up the main ingredients are imported from Japan and are served in a completely Japanese style. Fresh raw vegetables are carefully selected from local markets.

 When it comes to KOI, you can be completely assured of the quality of the food. Carefully selected raw ingredients, delicate processing and amazing decoration will help you enjoy a nutritious meal with a rich Japanese flavor KOI lunch:

    Japanese main ingredients! 

   Japanese processing style! 

  Varied menu, daily specials!

   Quick delivery service! 

 Facebook Fanpage: KOI Bento - Am thuc Nhat Ban

Coding class #2
Coding class #2
KOI Bento cook and students
KOI Bento cook and students
Bento box made by REACH students
Bento box made by REACH students


Graduation product of cooking students
Graduation product of cooking students

Jan – June  2017 is the period when everything in our core program falls into place. 346 youth graduated from REACH training program in the first half of 2017 with above targeted job placement outcomes. Another batch of 224 students started their training at the end of March.

In this period, we officially expanded 6 months on-the- job hospitality training program (YCI) to Ho Chi Minh city with the participatioin of  Le Meridien Saigon, InterContinental Saigon, Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers and Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon.

Besides the partnership with 5 stars hotels, we have also developed a new work based training partnership in Danang with FPT, one of the biggest IT corporations in Vietnam. Toward this partnership, Web & Graphic Design students will receive foundation IT training at REACH for 2.5 months before they are sent to FPT for advanced training for 1 month. FPT is also committed to recruit REACH students upon satisfactory performance. Out of 20 WGD students who were sent to FPT in Danang for advanced training, 16 have received offers to continue working with FPT in projects targeting Japanese customers

This month, 23 youngsters graduated from cooking course after 3 months of training. Once again, we had the pleasure of doing the hard work of being judges in their final exams. We tried our best to be critical but couldn't help hiding our pride when seeing their products and how far the students have gone after only 3 months time.

If you wonder what REACH's cooking students are and What they do after graduating from REACH? Let's meet Thang and Thuy.


Thang has 5 siblings. He is from a poor farming family in Thanh Hoa province. Thang dropt out of school at grade 9 because his parents could not afford his schooling.

Thang dropt out of school to help his mother in farming work for a few years before starting working in a wood workshop 2 years ago. Thang's father was former soldier. He was shot in his head and had to leave the army and was diagnosed with heart defect two years ago. The whole family relied on farming work, which only provided income of about 10 million ( about $500 per year).

Thang is currently attending cooking training at REACH. Thang knew about REACH through an introduction from a friend who studied F&B at REACH. One of the things Thang remembers the most is how hard it was to toss mixing food with pan (it took him 4 days to learn the skill!)

Thang plans to work for 4-5 years to improve his cooking skill and have enough savings to open a small restaurant in his hometown.



Thuy is 20 years old, from a farming family in Thanh Hoa province. Her family is one of the poorest household in the commune with the income of less than $45 per month. ( They are certified as poor household by local government).

Thuy has one younger brother, who is at grade 10. Her father and mother are both farmers. However, the income from farming work is so little that they have to find different seasonal work to earn extra income for the family. Her father has a hearing diffculty so it has been very challenging for him to find job. During harvest season, he can be hired to help other households' farming work with the pay of about 2.5 dollars per day. But the job only lasts for 5-7 days.

Thuy's mother also sells home-grown vegetable at a local market. She also collected trash that can be recycled to sell. 

After finishing grade 12, Thuy wanted to attend university but she knew that it would be just a dream. She enrolled in a 3 year vocational training program at a college but then dropt out because she could not afford training fees. When she studied at the vocational college, Thuy took part-time job at a duck restaurant to cover the expenses. After finishing her class in the morning, Thuy went to the duck restaurant . At the restaurant, there was no time to rest. She did different kind of work, from pucking the tails/ feather out of ducks, running the table, serving the customer, selling, washing the dishes.  Her work continued until 10.30pm, only then she could have dinner. After that, she rode her bicyle for another 30 minutes to her dormity, which was close by then. 

After 2 years, Thuy decided to stop her college education as it's too expensive for her. Then she was introduced to REACH through a friend. Thuy know that REACH's free vocational training program is a chance for her. 

Thuy graduated from REACH cooking training in March 2017. Now she is working as a cook at Japanese Sushi Kei restaurant. 

Graduation product of cooking students
Graduation product of cooking students
Cooking students
Cooking students


YCI students demostrate their skills
YCI students demostrate their skills

In February, we celebrated the graduations ceremony of 39 students of Youth Career Initative (YCI). They spent 24 weeks participating in on-job training at five-star hotels in Hanoi including Hilton, Sheraton, InterContinental and JW Marriot. 

Under the program, each student underwent more than 750 hours of mentoring and hospitality training provided as part of the hotels’ daily operations. Students worked as hotel staff and are rotated through hotel functions, ranging from security and housekeeping to cooking and luggage services.

Besides technical training, the students received soft skills, computer and English language training at REACH. REACH is also in charge of placing the students at jobs after they graduate and following up their employment for 6 months.

By the time of their graduation, 34 out of 39 YCI graduates have already found suitable employment. Among them, 14 continued to be employed by YCI participating 5-star hotels.

So who are YCI students? What are their stories? How was that 24 months to them? Let's meet Chi.


My name is Nguyen Thi Chi. I’m 22 years old. I was born and grew up Ha Tinh.

When I was only 3 years old, I was deprived from love of my mother and protection of my father. Without love from my parents and good living condition, I felt myself like a fish out of water and pitiful among people. Having a true family has always been  a burning dream . I have a younger brother named Long, who is 18 years old.

After my parents’death, my brother and I were brought up by my grandmother. Despite her old age, she was the breadwinner, who looked after us.

Hunger and poverty kept chasing us. Crops were all swept away by flood. Running out of rice, my grandmother often borrowed some from our neighbours to feed us with sweet potatoes and cassavas.  There was nothing worthy in our house except a bed. Having no choice, my brother and I went to rice mills to beg for food helping my grandmother. My grandmother, despite sunny or rainy days, patiently looked for snails and small craps and gathered every rice flowers left after a harvest. Despite the difficulties, she saved every penny so that we could go school like our friends.

I went to school in the morning. In the afternoon, I collect timber/wood from nearby forest to sell at market. In summer time, there were days under muggy sun of June, I tended oxen to get by. Time flew by, when I finished grade 9, my grandmother encouraged me to go out for work, save some money to learn an occupation.

One day, I decided to go to Hanoi to work. My first job was domestic helper. New environment, new feelings made me discouraged. I hoped if only time could pass quickly so that I could go back home and live by my grandmother and my brother. Even if we have to eat  sweet potatoes and cassava to survive, that would be ok to me as long as I could come back home.

Whenever walking past high buidings, high-class apartments, hotels, I aspired I would be there one day. I always cherished to work in five star hotels, but I didn’t know how to reach my dream and there was also no one teach me how to make it happen.

One day, through a friend I got to know about YCI program, which gives me opportunity to learn in the environment that I dreamt of.

I was a trainee in Housekeeping at Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake. At first time I didn’t use to new environment. Sometimes I was sad for not helping my trainers but also bothering them. However, I felt myself happy to get encouraging words from my trainers “Fighting! I believe you can do! Fighting! I believe you can get over!” Those words urged me to try more in work not to betray my teachers, my trainers and my friends.

During that 6 months, I was always thoroughly adviced by my trainers, from the minor things. The first two months I worked under my trainer’s instructions, after three months, I could work independently and got the top of my hotel marking scheme. That memory left me an impression forever and was a stepping stone for me to try more.

6  months is not long but to me it was my most meaningful and significant time. There were times falling, at the moment of standstill, I recognized I didn’t stay alone but always received thoughful recommendations and protection from my teachers. I also attended practical extracurricular lessons organized by hotels and REACH.  To a homeless girl like me, compared to the start, I’m now more confident in English communication.

In the future, I wish to get a stable job in Hanoi to help myself, my grandmother and take my brother to Hanoi for studying. I also wish to buy a wheelchair for my grandmother, so she could go to anywhere she likes. I would feel high up in the sky if those wishes come true.

By the time Chi graduated from YCI program in February, she had found a job at luxury Fraiser Suits in Hanoi.

Happy and proud Chi on graduation day
Happy and proud Chi on graduation day
YCI trainee at pastry department
YCI trainee at pastry department
Anh is now a full-time housekeeper
Anh is now a full-time housekeeper

Happy New Year!

We hope you had a fantastic holiday break and that your 2017 - like ours - is off to a running start. Before we launch into the year ahead, we wanted to take a moment to show you the impact your support has had over the last 12 months. 2016 was a year full of achievements for REACH and hopefully with your support, 2017 will be even bigger.

Here's what we did together in 2016:

1. Changed lives

This year we provided vocational training and job placement services to 1086 disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. Among our students last year was Anh, a young woman who endured years of domestic abuse and lived below the poverty line before joining REACH's housekeeping program in Danang. She graduated with a full time job and is now able to support her mother and younger siblings. Read her incredible story here

2. Launched new market-driven training courses

With your support, we also launched two new training courses: a cooking class and 6-month 3D-modelling course. Both of these courses will equip students with in-demand skills sought after employers in these sectors, which are experiencing significant skilled worker shortages. 

3. Developed program-enhancing partnerships

In 2016, REACH joined hands with German IT/design firm BR24 to launch a brand new 3D-modelling course for disadvantaged youth, with a particular emphasis on students with disability. The equipment, teaching staff and technical expertise was generously supplied by BR24 and will enable REACH to deliver this training independently in future. 

With the help of the Asia Foundation and Starbucks Vietnam we also commenced a joint F&B training project that will benefit 50 disadvantaged youth over the coming year. Starbucks will provide technical input and staffing resources to deliver industry-leading training lectures and workshops in partnership with REACH. 

4. We set up a social enterprise

In the latter half of the year, we launched our social enterprise EM Hair Salon! In addition to generating funds to support our hairdressing class in Hanoi, this training salon provides a real work environment for REACH hairdressing graduates to apply their skills and interact with local and foreign clients. Visit our FB page here

5. We won awards (!)

Capping off an already big year, REACH was named one of the 12 Most Sustainable Development Models in Vietnam by the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations - the government body overseeing NGOs in Vietnam. In addition to this, REACH was also named by Irish Aid and the Research Centre for Management and Sustainable Development (MSD) as one of 12 Organisations with the Most Outstanding Practices in Transparency and Accountability and the NGO with the most impressive development in Vietnam. These are incredible honours and we'd like to thank our amazing staff and network for supporting our work. 

We couldn't do this without you. 

Students at our new cooking class in Hanoi
Students at our new cooking class in Hanoi
Our F&B students at our partnership ceremony
Our F&B students at our partnership ceremony
Our social enterprise EM Hair Salon in Hanoi
Our social enterprise EM Hair Salon in Hanoi
REACH at the MSD/Irish Aid Inspiring CSOs event
REACH at the MSD/Irish Aid Inspiring CSOs event
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.

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Organization Information


Location: Hanoi, Hanoi City - Vietnam
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Phuong Nguyen
Hanoi, Vietnam
$37,399 raised of $60,000 goal
381 donations
$22,601 to go
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