Posts Tagged ‘empowerment’

Know One Teach One in Hanoi

02/11/2011

The last two weeks in Vietnam have been filled with marvelous sights and stories which I will share when I return to Sydney and am back at my own computer when I can include photos to enhance the stories. However, right now I am compelled to mention a restaurant we visited for lunch today called KOTO (Know One Teach One). This isn’t an ordinary restaurant though. KOTO is a non-profit restaurant and training center in Hanoi (They have also just opened one in Ho Chi Minh City also) who use a holistic approach in helping disadvantaged and street youth in Vietnam through hospitality training and combining this with English language training and life skills to provide the participants with a deeper experience by teaching them how to make key life decisions and become self-sufficient individuals.

Every six months KOTO takes 25 off the streets or out of their impoverished situations to enter into their hospitality training program which starts off with health checks and vaccinations then over the 24 month training period are provided with accommodation, monthly allowance, uniforms, ongoing medical support as well as life skills training (so it’s not just teaching young people how to cook and work in a restaurant – much more than that).

KOTO was started in 2000 by Australian expat, Jimmy Pham, who first started the program with a small sandwich shop but as we saw today has grown into a much larger project, which is inspiring to see.

I appreciate any youth orientated program that looks beyond straight employment skills, like cooking or serving tables in this case. Providing a much more holistic experience by combining English language classes, financial planning and other life skills will not only make the young individuals more employable but more well-rounded meaning a brighter future for them and generations to come, if they one day have children and can continue the cycle of education.

Most of the young people who enter the program are at high risk of getting involved in drugs, crime, prostitution and exploitation. Having this opportunity allows them to go down a different path by raising their confidence and providing the tools and resources required in creating a sustainable future, which is key in any successful business model. We all know the saying ‘Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish..’ And well, you know the rest.

Aside from the excellent mission of KOTO, I really enjoyed my plate of Halong Bay crab ravioli and a special Mint Julep created especially by the trainees – creativity is also encouraged! We were touched by the young people we saw at the front of the house (and back!) who were smiling and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Check out more information, facts and also about stories from some of the graduates of the program at www.koto.com.au. And of course, check out the restaurant if you find yourself in Hanoi! Delicious food, drinks and lovely service for a great cause!