Sunday, November 9, 2008

Day 9 Wednesday November 5, 2008

Yesterday at the Asia Pacific Injury Prevention Conference, many of the delegates wanted to purchase the Protec ( ) helmets on display. So many, in fact, that this morning the staff from the nearby Protec store brought over hundreds more helmets. One of the Protec staff was our Thao.
Thao grew up in the Hoa Phuong Orphanage in Hai Phong. She is part of the first group of KWB Teach Me To Fish scholarship recipients. She and four other orphans moved out of the orphanage (when they all turned 18) back in the summer of 2005. She immediately enrolled in a culinary training program in Hanoi, at a nonprofit vocational training (in hospitality and culinary arts) for underserved children (orphans and street children). At the end of her first year, she did an internship as a cook (Asian food) in the Hoa Sua Restaurant, owned and managed by the same nonprofit organization (Hoa Sua School for Disadvantaged Children In November 2007, through the arrangements of KWB Thao got a job working as a salesperson in the Protec Show Room in Hanoi. Four months after she started, she was promoted to the position of Team Leader (shift supervisor). Now, in addition to her full-time job at Protec, which pays her a salary above the standard of most workers in the city, Thao is serving as KWB in-country representative for the North. She spends her extra time studying English and computers, and looks out for the younger TM2F kids studying in Hanoi as well as the orphans still at the orphanage in Hai Phong.
Watching Thao in action--working behind the display table at the conference-- I was overwhelmed with pride and satisfaction. Thao has set an inspiring example for the rest of the orphans of the Hoa Phuong Orphanage. Now many of them cannot wait until their turn comes at eighteen to go and face the outside world!
Tonight was the farewell dinner with the kids. After they finished with school and some with work, we gathered at Quan An Ngon, a popular local and tourist restaurant. I asked each of the kids to invite along a friend, and I had a chance to meet them. The three friends that came to dinner, all were from faraway rural villages and lost either one or both of their parents. When they complete their training, the school will help them secure jobs in the nearest city to where they are from. During dinner (yes, they ate a lot of food) all the kids viewed the activities around them with serious expressions. The servers were taking orders and serving food and drinks in a very crowded restaurant filled with many foreigners. What they saw was what they are now learning about in school. I could tell what was going through their minds: ‘Yes, I can do that’. It was the same thought going through my mind: ‘Yes, you can’.
Time to bid good-bye, I placed all 7 of the kids in a taxi for the ride back to their school. Tonight was the best meal they have had (until Chu Son is back again in another 4 months)!

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