Education
 Vietnam
Project #10810

Give disadvantaged Vietnamese youth secure jobs

by REACH
Imagining a sales person
Imagining a sales person

The following is a postcard from Charissa Murphy, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Southeast Asia, about her recent visit to Reach in Vietnam.

Winding down the stairwell from Reach's Hanoi staff offices and program headquarters, we stopped along the way to visit each of the five courses held at the headquarters. I wasn't sure entirely what to expect at first, but I was taken by how actively engaged each of the students were. As I walked into each of the separate instruction rooms, I thought to myself, "Wow, they are so eager to learn!" The model is setup this way, selecting only students who will be enthusiastic and committed to their personal development within the program and in the job placement process following the program.

After learning about how the organization operates and witnessing the engagement of its students, it was clear why the job placement success goals and rate of 80% or higher are being achieved with Reach's students in the first month after the courses. Not only were the students enthusiastic, but the instructors encouraged interactive activities, critical thinking, and hands-on learning to facilitate their knowledge growth. Coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, including poverty, domestic violence, sex trafficking, and similar, Reach is truly providing them with the opportunity to positively change their lives.

Aside from greeting me warmly by standing up and clapping for me (I don't get this celebrity-like treatment in the States, so I smiled in gratitude for feeling so important!), the following is what I observed that the students were doing in each training room when I entered unannounced.

Sales and Marketing: Holding large easel board paper, two students were presenting the perceptions that their separate groups produced on what a sales person should look like. As one of them shared the illustration with me, he stated that the sales person was well-dressed, smiling, and young. Visualizing themselves working in sales is part of the process to help them make it a reality. I imagine that they are also learning about stereotypes and perceptions too, and it was rewarding to see how engaged the students were in thinking about their ideals for their own sales persona.

Hospitality (Food and Beverage): This course was split into two classrooms for the day to reduce the student-to-teacher ratio. The students are in the early part of the course, which covers English language, and the program feels that it is more effective for the students to be in smaller classes for greater individual attention. I actually accidentally walked into one of these classes when I first arrived, and the teacher was practicing numbers with the students, having them individually state the numbers that she showed to them on cards. When we returned again to the class, I noticed that the walls were lined with various food and beverage related images and their English words for the students to practice daily. The partnership with luxury hotel lines really enhances this program, and I was able to explore many pictures humbly displayed that helped me see the hands-on learning experience and growth that the students receive. 

Web/Graphic Design: I could feel the students' interest as they actively watched a projector screen ahead of them. When I walked into the Graphic Design class, the instructor was going through technical web and computer details to explain basic setup. This was only the first week of the class. Every eye was focused and writing notes, and I felt bad for the interruption because the full class was very engaged. 

Nail Design: This room was FULL of color! It wasn't just nail colors, though. Each of the students wore vibrant safety and cleanliness clothing, as well as their own bright smiles! Preparing the students for a very practical job, it seemed that they were very talented based on the work I saw they each produced from the past week alone. I could tell that a strong model was behind the process that each of them followed, ensuring a clean and safe environment. 

Hairdressing: My mom is a hairdresser, so I am naturally always interested in learning about different hair techniques in different settings and countries. 60% of the students in the class were or still are commercial sex workers, so this setting was quite different as I envisioned the tremendous life change they were hoping to achieve. There were various different stations setup in the room such as washing and shampooing,  blow drying and styling, and curling. Since the new session recently started, the students had not yet started working with chemicals, but they would in upcoming weeks. I was told that on specific days such as exam days they invite other students from Reach or members of the local community to receive hair styles or cuts for free. It was great to know that they allow the students to share their accomplishments with fellow students and the surrounding community.

This also applied for the other classes too, though. Each of the classes interacts with the other Reach students, staff, and alumni. For instance, the web design course helps create the alumni magazine, consisting of stories and information from some of the 10,510 students who have gone through Reach. Reach follows-up with the alumni for six months after graduation, providing strong support in the first month for successful job placement, and it also connects with the alumni through social media and its print publications. 

I'm so grateful that I was able to meet with the Reach team, as well as many of its current students. I look forward to hearing continued success stories as Reach helps the disadvantaged in Vietnam create more healthy, enjoyable lives. 

Colorful nails and smiles in the nail course!
Colorful nails and smiles in the nail course!
Detailed, safe, and clean precision for success
Detailed, safe, and clean precision for success
Full class of engaged future web/graphic designers
Full class of engaged future web/graphic designers
Focusing on proper hair curling techniques
Focusing on proper hair curling techniques
Practicing to wash gives the students experience
Practicing to wash gives the students experience
Graduation happiness
Graduation happiness

Last August, REACH officially started a new program called "Youth Career Initiative" in partnership with five-star hotels in Hanoi. Participants, who are youth from underpriveleged backgrounds, had opportunity to undergo intensive on-site training by senior staff and managers at the Hilton, Starwood’s Sheraton, and InterContinental hotels in Hanoi. In addition, the students received soft skills, computer and English language training at REACH.

The training designed as a part of the hotels daily operations and the students worked as hotel staff. Within the first month of their training, students were rotated through different positions in different hotel areas including kitchen, banquet, security, bellman, pastry, housekeeping, etc. before choosing the work they wanted to pursue.

Six months has passed and the YCI students have graduated with recognition from the five-star hotels. Out of 23 YCI graduates, two have become official staff from their hotels. 7 are offered to stay in casual position with possibility of being promoted to permanent staff. Other graduates have been arranged to take interviews at other businesses and 8 have found their job.   

The road ahead for YCI graduates will turn to different directions. Meanwhile, let's take a look at their reflections on the journey they shared together for the past six months.

“I was feeling down when beginning at work, but trainers in the hotels and at school told me stories of disadvantage youth who succeeded by trying their best. Then I think I still lucky with many opportunities in the future, I have to put my great effort to moving forward.” - Nguyen Thi Thu

“...at the beginning I felt a little bit shy and confuse, however trainers and collegues supported me, made me comfortable like a family with their fun, joy and enthusiastically guide me at work” -  Do Thanh Trung

"The trainers cared about me from the smallest things. They also shared with me the secrets to become a great cook." - Nguyen Minh Phuc.

Receive certificate from hotel managers
Receive certificate from hotel managers
On the job training
On the job training
A certificate to work in hospitality industry
A certificate to work in hospitality industry

Links:

Hanoi centre grads eagerly awaiting their diplomas
Hanoi centre grads eagerly awaiting their diplomas

Dear Friend of REACH,

Thank you again for your past support. We want to begin this update by letting you know that REACH’s project has been selected for 100% matches on all donations by Microsoft today, December 3rd at 12 noon EST/midnight Hanoi time until funds run out. If you’re looking to give a meaningful holiday gift, consider supporting REACH again today!

The past three months have been full of exciting news at REACH. The latest batches of 382 students from Hanoi, Da Nang and Hue celebrated their graduation and the beginning of their new careers last month. 342 more fresh faces have taken their place. After four months, the previous batch graduated in August has also achieved strong job placement rates, with an average of over 84% having found full-time employment at an average monthly salary of over 3,000,000 VND.

We are also happy to announce the two exciting new initiatives this quarter. REACH has launched a new local guide training course for 20 disadvantaged ethnic minority youth in Lao Cai, Sapa, in partnership with the High Impact Tourism Training (HITT) program funded by the European Union. In addition, 17 of our trainers completed our new 5-Star training program at leading companies to get refreshed with the latest industry trends and quality standards. Finally, REACH staff have finalized an enhanced Work Readiness curriculum to better prepare students for the job market, which began implementation on December 1st, 2013.

Finally, this quarter has seen the arrival of four foreign volunteers at the Hanoi centre. The volunteers, from Australia, Hungary, Poland and Germany, have been supporting the English facilitators with teaching, creating lesson plans and workbooks for students. Sadly three finished their placements in November, but REACH is looking forward to welcoming two more Australian volunteers in mid-December to support English training for the latest batch of students.

Our students’ successes would not be possible without the generosity of our donors. Every time a REACH student finds a job with a decent wage, that triumph is yours as well as hers. Every time a student learns a vocational skill that will enable him to provide for his family, that is change that you helped create. That’s why we are so grateful for your support, and why we continue to need it.

With the holidays approaching, consider giving the most meaningful gift of all: the ability for someone in need to turn his or her own life around. Give to our GlobalGiving project before 11:59am Hanoi time today (December 4th) and Microsoft will match your donation 100%. Thank you for your ongoing support in empowering disadvantaged youth in Vietnam to find secure employment.

Matthew Tait speaking on behalf of the volunteers
Matthew Tait speaking on behalf of the volunteers
Ha Minh Trang speaking on behalf of the students
Ha Minh Trang speaking on behalf of the students
Fresh grads and volunteers pose for a group photo
Fresh grads and volunteers pose for a group photo
Danang Web & Graphic Design student Phuc
Danang Web & Graphic Design student Phuc

Do you know what your support is accomplishing? Over 82% of graduates from the most recent batches have attained stable jobs, averaging a starting monthly salary of nearly 3 million VND, or $140. REACH is currently training 515 students, 45% of them female, at five training centres throughout north and central Vietnam. We are also thrilled to announce an exciting new partnership with the Hilton Hanoi Opera and Garden Inn, InterContinental West Lake, and Sheraton Hanoi hotels under the Youth Career Initiative (YCI), to provide 33 disadvantaged and at-risk youth tuition-free training in the hospitality industry. You can learn more about the YCI Vietnam country program at http://youthcareerinitiative.org/globalpresence/vietnam.aspx.

All REACH students are from disadvantaged backgrounds, including those whose families live in extreme poverty and cannot afford access to further education anywhere else. Meet two such REACH Web & Graphic Design students currently training at the Danang centre:

Nguyen Dac Phuc

Phuc is a 21-year-old young man from Danang. Though his family has lived there for over 90 years, they still rent a room in a poor neighbourhood because they have never been able to afford to buy a house or apartment. His father has never had a stable job in Phuc’s lifetime: he works a variety of odd jobs, from being a xe om driver to doing occasional deliveries to market stands. If he’s lucky, he will make just 500,000 VND (less than $25) per month. Phuc’s mother is a street vendor, starting work at 5am every day to buy cakes and candies to resell. She makes just a bit more at 600,000 VND (about $30) per month.

To help support his family, Phuc left school like his older sister. Apart from helping his mother sell cakes, all he could find was seasonal work at an outdoor café. Fortunately, a friend who had graduated from REACH told him about the Web & Graphic Design course in Danang. After passing an interview and a family visit, Phuc was admitted and qualified for a meal allowance for the duration of the course.

Finances are still tight, and Phuc wakes up early before class to help his mother, as well as on weekends to work a side-job at a café to support the family income while he studies. But through the Web & Graphic Design program he is learning to use state-of-the-art software like Photoshop and Corel Draw, as well as conversational English to gain in-demand employable skills. When he graduates in November 2013, Phúc is optimistic that with the assistance of REACH’s career placement service he will be able to find a stable job as a designer and provide a steady income for his family.

Bao Nhat Duy

Duy is 20 years old, also from Danang. His father died when he was 6, and his mother struggles to bring home a steady income. For 10 hours a day, Duy’s mother helps his aunt peel onions and garlic to earn between 800,000 and 1 million VND (between $40 and $50) per month.

After high school, Duy was caught in the double trap of being unemployed and also unable to afford further education. As a result, he was forced to move in with his grandmother for financial reasons. When he was finally introduced to REACH by a Web & Graphic Design alumnus who now works full-time for an international firm, Duy immediately seized the opportunity and applied. Even before being enrolled, he went to cyber café daily to self-teach himself in Photoshop. Now a month into his course, Duy is well on his way to realizing his dream of following in his friend’s footsteps, and working for a renowned design company.

Keep supporting REACH students! Starting September 16th, REACH is kicking off its second GlobalGiving fundraiser campaign to reach our project’s goal of $20,000 and train a total of 40 disadvantaged youth to get secure jobs. Your support continues to achieve a real, measurable impact. Simply go to REACH’s GlobalGiving project page and donate now!

Thank you for your continued support!

Danang Web & Graphic Design student Duy
Danang Web & Graphic Design student Duy
Opening ceremony of the Youth Career Initiative
Opening ceremony of the Youth Career Initiative
Thuan
Thuan

What changes can you see in three months time?

For REACH students, three months means transforming from being unconfident to confident, from unskilled to skilled, and from hopeless to hopeful. For REACH facilitators, three months means getting to know many disadvantaged youth coming from different walks of life, guiding them and building their self-esteem. However, the relationship between REACH facilitators and their students never stop after 3 months, when they graduated. It is a on-going process. As soon as the teaching job finishes, another responsibility comes up: job placement for students.

Finding jobs is hard. It is required effort from both facilitators and students. Before official statistic about students job placement comes in, let's meet some of REACH students, who have made a turning point in their life.

Thuan - Study Hairdress and Makeup

Thuan is from Thai Binh, a countryside 110 kilometers away from Hanoi. Thuan’s parents are farmers. Having 2 siblings, Thuan is the youngest.

Thuan got to know about REACH when she was riding her bike looking for a job with an empty stomach. She had not eaten anything for the past 2 days. Although her application was 2 weeks late, she was still accepted to study Hairdressing and Makeup at REACH. Thuan always tried her best while studying at REACH.

In the evening, Thuan sold ice tea around the National Stadium area to earn some money for accommodation in Hanoi. There was a time policemen confiscated all of her plastic chairs for selling ice tea on pavement without permission. Many difficulties as Thuan faced everyday, she had never asked for financial support from her parents since her left her hometown.

After finishing her training at REACH, Thuan found a job in a Hair salon on Hang Be street. Now she has a sustainable income of more than $200 per month.

Huyen - Study Nail Painting

Huyen's parents are farmers. Because of family's difficulty, Huyen dropt out of school when she was in grade 10. Living in suburb area of Hanoi, Huyen travels about 50 kilometers each day to study Nail Painting at REACH. She wakes up at 5.30 every morning to catch early bus to REACH.  Now Huyen has nearly finished her training. She has found herself a nail painting job at a local hair salon.

Ba - study Food and Beverage

Ba's parents are farmers from Thanh Hoa. His family is listed as poor household according to Vietnamese Government criteria. Ba has one older brother, whose left arm is disable. Ba himself lost one finger when he was just a small boy. When Ba was studying at REACH, it was winter. His facilitator can remember him so well because he did not have warm clothes to wear.

After his graduation, REACH helped Ba to find a job in a restaurant with monthly salary of nearly $150 together with free meals.

Huyen, Nail Art student in Hanoi, batch 26
Huyen, Nail Art student in Hanoi, batch 26
Ba and his classmates at graduation ceremony
Ba and his classmates at graduation ceremony

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Organization Information

REACH

Location: Hanoi, Hanoi City - Vietnam
Website: http:/​/​www.reach.org.vn
Project Leader:
Mai Pham
Hanoi, Vietnam
$28,278 raised of $60,000 goal
 
301 donations
$31,722 to go
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