“I had nothing except some pieces of clothing and a hazy mind,” Bui Quang Nhat An says when describing what life was like at 18 when he re-entered the secular world.
An’s mother had abandoned him and his four siblings when he was only 4 years old and his father passed away several years later. His relatives couldn’t afford to raise him, but recognizing his dire situation after his father’s funeral, a monk invited him to live and study as a novice monk at Quy Thien Pagoda in Hue.
But the life of a monk didn’t suit An and he decided to leave the pagoda when he turned 18, just as he was preparing to be promoted from a novice monk. His family refused to accept his choice to leave the Pagoda and denied him support or any sympathy.
He moved to a small rented room and earned a meager wage as a coffee shop server while his life seemed to pass without meaning or direction. When An’s sister who lived in an orphanage introduced STREETS to him, he saw it as a means to escape his sorrows and stress.
An was accepted into the program and was immediately impressed by the staff’s professional but warm attitudes. He soon realized that STREETS was not just a vocational school or charity organization, but a community and home in which each member has a chance to grow and develop.
Just as he was feeling comfortable enough to open his heart to those around him, his godmother at the pagoda passed away. Overwhelmed with grief, An could hardly focus on his studies. Knowing the pain might lead him to quit, the managers at STREETS gave him a 10 day break to attend her funeral, grieve and think about his future. “During those 10 days, friends, staff and teachers from STREETS kept calling to comfort and reassure me,” An says. Their support helped him decide not to give up. He came back to STREETS and worked hard to continue. He even became the first Traineeat STREETS to receive a perfect 100 points on all the final tests.
After graduating, An was asked to continue to work at the STREETS Restaurant Café for a year and a half to continue developing his skills and to help support younger Trainees. He then became a Server at the prestigious InterContinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort. His talent and dedication was quickly recognized and he was promoted to Team Captain after only 6 months. With a stable salary, knowledge about hospitality, leadership skills and management experience, An is now confident he can one day start his own business that will allow him to help his brother and others by giving them a job. An has always wanted to help others but “asking a poor, unhappy person to help others is an impossible mission,” he says.
Thanks to STREETS, he is no longer that person and can now continue to develop his own life and career while also assisting those around him.