One by one, four youths collected their certificates from the CEO of Boxhill Institute at a graduation witnessed by hundreds of alumni, friends, families and supporters. Ms Thuy, Ms Hanh, Mr Dung and Mr Troung, along with their classmates from Class 15 of KOTO, had completed two years of vocational training in F&B and are ready to take on the world. It’s hard to imagine that just two years before, some of these youths were living on the streets, asking tourists to let them shine their shoes, many living dangerously amidst gangs and triads.
Many of them are victim of circumstances, and the main factor is poverty. The world has a name for such youths living on the streets of Vietnam. They call them Street Kids. And there is little hope for a stable future for Street Kids. Thanks to organisations like KOTO – or Know One, Teach One – these youths now face a brighter future and have the means to get out of poverty. Some are headed to work in restaurants, others in hotels as far as the Middle East, and still others have a chance for higher education in Australia. Back in 2009, Project Happy Feet learnt about KOTO and through its fund-raising efforts, contributed USD9,600 to fund four scholarships. Ms Thuy, Ms Hanh, Mr Dung and Mr Troung, were recipients of these scholarships. Two years on in 2011, Project Happy Feet was invited to attend the graduation of the sponsored youths. And what a touching and memorable affair it was.
“I’m very grateful to the sponsors from Project Happy Feet,” said Ms Thuy, who will be continuing to work at KOTO Restaurant to help supervise the younger trainees. “You changed my life.” “I never imagined this to happen to me,” said Mr Troung, who addressed the audience on behalf of his class, and will be heading to Halong Bay to work onboard a cruise ship with Mr Dung and Ms Hanh. “I never imagine this day will come true. We did it!”