LIVES TOUCHED BY STREETS
At 16, Sang gained sponsorship to a local English Center for H'mong children in Sapa, where she learned about STREETS. “My mother didn't want me to leave Sapa," Sang recalls. The tenacious teenager finally persuaded her family to let her go to STREETS in HoiAn. Sang excelled during the 18-month program. After graduating, Sang began her career as a Commis Chef at the Fusion Maia Danang Resort, then after several years she returned to her hometown of Sapa and continued her career at the acclaimed Victoria Sapa Resort and Spa. Sang sends part of her income home to support her family. They have a newfound respect for the ambitious young woman. "My mother cries and tells me she is proud of me," Sang said.
Phan grew up extremely poor in the outskirts of Da Nang, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Hoi An. He was raised on land contaminated by Dioxin during what the Vietnamese refer to as the 'American War.' He was accepted to STREETS at age 19; Phan says he never thought he would be lucky enough to have such an opportunity. He found the rigorous training program difficult. "I pushed myself to go on. STREETS taught me how to do that," he says. After graduating, he was selected for a cook’s position to work under the Executive Chef at La Maison 1888, the only Michelin three-star restaurant in Vietnam at the Intercontinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort. Phan says, "I do everything for my heart, not for the money."
After several years he married and started his family with a son. Then he moved back to his hometown of HoiAn as a Demi-Chef de Partie in a cozy Hoi An Villa resort. Most recently he decided to take an entrepreneurial leap and opened his own BBQ food cart, serving tourists at the HoiAn night market.
Phuong grew up on the Cham Islands with no running water, healthcare or high school. After graduating from STREETS, Phuong started her career at the renowned Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai as a server before being promoted to a Supervisor. After several years she continued her career in the high-end luxury market at the Park Hyatt Saigon as a Service Team Leader, before another promotion in her exemplary career to Assistant F&B Outlet Manager.
Phuong helps support her struggling parents and relatives on the Cham Islands with basic necessities. She also helps mentor recent STREETS graduates. "I am so lucky to have STREETS and to have a family. It makes me hurt because I know there are people who have it more difficult than me; it is my dream to help people." Most recently, coming full circle, we celebrated her return to STREETS as a Restaurant Service Manager.
Van's mother died when she was just 15. Van's father soon abandoned her and her younger sister. The girls were forced to live with an aunt and uncle, who could provide little more than basic shelter. Van was desperate to find a way to support herself and her sister when she heard about STREETS International. "When I arrived, I was scared," Van says, "but everyone was really kind to me and I felt welcome." Just two weeks after graduating from STREETS, Van was hired by the Hyatt Regency Resort DaNang.
The professionalism and enthusiasm she learned at STREETS did not go unnoticed by the Hyatt. In her first year, Van was awarded 'Employee of the Year,' winning an all-expense paid vacation to Singapore. She has proudly continued her career at Hyatt successfully working her way up to a Room Service Team Leader.
Dieu grew up in an orphanage in Hue. His father died in a flood and his mother, unable to care for her son, abandoned him at an orphanage. "STREETS changed me a lot," he says, "I am confident now." After graduating from STREETS, Dieu was hired as a Commis Chef at the luxury Anantara Hoi An Resort, where he was specially selected to teach guests at the daily cooking classes. "I love to see the guests happy," he says with an infectious smile.
Dieu moved on to the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort . Eager to explore further, he was one of our first graduates to go abroad where he earned a position at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi in the Maldives. After several years he returned to Vietnam and is now the Junior Sous Chef at Grand Mercure Danang . He continues to support his mother and is now preparing to build a proper house for her in his hometown of Hue.
Abandoned by her mother, Suong grew up with her grandparents in rural Quang Nam Province. Her grandparents were subsistence rice farmers who struggled to feed the family. At 18, Suong was forced to work in a sweatshop shoe factory. Suong learned of STREETS and completed an application. Without a phone and desperate for the opportunity she knew STREETS presented, Suong biked three hours to check the status of her application and learn that she was accepted.
Since finishing at STREETS, Suong has worked at the luxury InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, as a server in their Michelin 3-star La Maison 1888, before being promoted to Bartender, a position that allows her to provide her son all the good care and education she was denied.
Do was orphaned at 12 when his father died and his mother abandoned him at his grandfather's house in rural Quang Nam Province. Three years later he was left at an orphanage in Hoi An. Do spoke only a few words of English when he came to the program, "At STREETS we must learn to speak English everywhere," Do says, "Mr. Neal wants us to even dream in English!" Do thrived in his culinary studies. "In the kitchen, there is so much action. You are never bored."
Just two weeks after graduating, Do was hired at the renowned Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai. Earning three promotions and being named an ‘Employee of the Year.” Do was a rising star at The Nam Hai, when he was offered a dream job as executive chef at The Rachel, a prominent, new restaurant along the Han River in Da Nang. "I can do anything because I believe in myself and trust myself now because STREETS believed in me!" He is now the very respected Sous Chef at the renowned 5-star Naman Retreat Danang.