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!