Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Several years ago, Nguyễn Anh Thư dropped out of school and had no way of earning an income in HCM City. Her family, originally from the Mekong Delta province of An Giang, could not afford to pay for any kind of job training.
Social workers from the French NGO Enfants & Developpement, who were aware that Thư had dropped out of school, visited her house to tell her about a new programme at vocational school.
What would you like to do? they asked. “Hairdressing,” Thư told them.
She then began attending a free four-month course at the Humanitarian Vocational Training School, funded by the Wella UNICEF Making Waves Project.
Besides learning cutting, perming, straightening and colouring, students spend two weeks studying with foreign hair stylists provided by Wella, one of the world’s largest cosmetics and hair care brands worldwide.
Today, Thư earns VNĐ3million (US$133) a month as a hairdresser.
After finishing the course, the students are given an option to take advanced courses for a fee and are told they can call the project’s teachers if they need help.
“I’m lucky I received assistance. The training was enough for me to work at a salon,” Thư said. “When I have enough money to open my own salon, I’ll return to the school to learn advanced skills.”
Like Thư, Võ Thị Thu Hiền, 18, of the city’s outlying district of Bình Chánh, dropped out of school in the eighth grade. She began work as a manual labourer at a small company producing pincers.
Hiền heard about the free hairdressing training at the Humanitarian Vocational Training School and applied to study in the programme.
“The teachers, including the foreign ones, take a heartfelt approach,” Hiền said. “They tell us about their own personal story and passion for hairdressing and what they did to pursue the job. Their stories encouraged me to study and become a stylist.”
The programme’s training courses began last year, with a total of 100 vulnerable children aged 15 to 18 enrolled so far in the course.
The city’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs helps organise the training with cooperation from UNICEF, Wella, and the Humanitarian Vocational Training School.
Street children, children living at shelters and other care facilities, and children from migrant families are eligible to apply.
According to UNICEF, HCM City’s fast growth “hides the magnitude of poverty and disparities” as well as other challenges which affect poor people in the urban region, including children.
Figures from the city’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs show that the city has 1.5 million children, including more than 51,152 disadvantaged children.
The country has nearly 3.3 million children and adolescents, including 1.75 million child labourers, and more than 5,400 children with HIV, according to UNICEF.
The WELLA - UNICEF partnership project provides financial and technical support to HCM City and Đồng Tháp and Lào Cai provinces to give youth professional and life skills, especially those from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
The Making Waves project helps to “reduce the gap between the rapid economic progress of the past two decades in Việt Nam and protection of children and adolescents harmed by the progress”.
Since 2010, it has empowered more than 31,000 young people in Brazil and Romania to fulfill their rights and realise their potential. —VNS