Measures to help street children

Measures to help street children

Nhan Dan – Amid crowded and busy streets of Hanoi and many other cities, many disadvantaged children are earning a living. How to help them is still a question for authorities and each of us.

Disadvantaged street children

At noon on a hot day, near the wall of the Hang Day stadium, on Phan Phu Tien street, Nguyen Van Vy, 12, and his elder brother Nguyen Van Duc, 15, are seen working hard, shining shoes and sandals.  "In summer, fewer people wear shoes, so we earn a few tens of thousands of dong. In winter, we earn double."

Vy went on to say: "We work here on Saturdays and Sundays. On other days, we work in the morning and in the afternoon we go to school."

Duc, Vy and Cong were born in a poor village in Quang Trung commune, Hoang Hoa district, Thanh Hoa province. Their family experienced hard times in Hanoi for five years. Therefore, Vy looks older and more dynamic than other boys and girls of the same age.

However, they were lucky enough to have joined classes organised at the May 19 Charity House across the Red River. Vy is a third-grade pupil; Duc, fourth-grade and their elder bother, Nguyen Van Cong, 16, works for a cafe and is studying at third-grade.

In the evening after lessons, they ride their bicycles to an inn at Hang Bot drive, Ton Duc Thang street.

They said they had to live far away from their home village in order to earn a living. They have to save money and wait for Tet (Lunar New Year) to return to their home village.

KOTO model

In another case, Ha Van Ty, 16, from Thieu Tin commune, Thieu Hoa district, Thanh Hoa province, and his brother went to Hanoi and live in Bach Dang ward, Hoan Kiem district. They earn a living by shining shoes around Ly Quoc Su, Hang Trong, Chan Cam and Hang Manh streets.

He said he was lucky as he was among 27 young street people selected for a vocational training course at the KOTO charity vocational training centre. (KOTO stands for ‘Know One Teach One’).

The centre was set up in 2001 by Jimmy Pham, a Vietnamese national in Australia. Earlier, it was a sandwich shop, recruiting street children. Now, it has developed into a restaurant, located at 59 Van Mien and has a vocational training centre for hotels and restaurants at 72 Thuy Khue street, Hanoi.

After six years, KOTO has trained more than 200 people, who now can earn a living.

Do Thuy Nga, head of the centre’s Department of Personnel, said after 18 months of training the centre’s graduates are granted with an international certificate, which helps them seek a good job at luxury hotels, such as the Sheraton, Sofitel Metropole and Hilton.

Nguyen Thi Thao, 20 years old, is an example of the success story of the centre’s graduate.

Thao used to earn a living by selling post cards around Hoan Kiem Lake. She was among graduates of the first training courses at KOTO. She is now the manager of the KOTO restaurant. She has just finished a training course in Switzerland.

Jimmy Pham said that the centre’s biggest achievement was to see its graduates earn their living with what they had been trained at the centre, allowing them to help other disadvantaged people. The centre is expected to recruit 80 more young people like Ky.

Nga said that the centre is calling for more contributions from charity funds to open training centres in Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City.

Helping disadvantaged children stabilise life

According to the Ministry of Labour, War Invalid and Social Affairs, there has been a year on year increase in the number of children flocking from rural areas to urban areas. In 2003, Vietnam had 21,000 street children, mainly in 33 provinces and cities.

However, thanks to the community’s efforts, many disadvantaged children have received support and assistance. So far, the number of street children is around 6,600. Hanoi alone has 200.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, head of the Committee for Population, Family and Children, said that so far, many programmes and projects have been implemented to help street children. Many vocational training schools and centres have been formed with contribution from both Vietnamese and international organisations and donors.

The Hoa Sua School, which has trained around 1,400 street children, is an example.

However, the support and assistance for street and di
sadvantaged children has yet to combine with policies on poverty reduction in localities, thus failing to be highly effective. Also, not very street child, who has been given a profession, can find a job. 

Therefore, the return of street children home has yet to be effective.

Van Chuc


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