Having lost both his parents to AIDS by the time he was only 6 years old, Dinh Viet Tung along with another brother were raised by their older brother, an unskilled laborer in Da Nang City. Unable to afford school fees, Tung was forced to drop out of school in the 8th grade to work in a motorbike-cleaning shop. His expectations for life were heartbreakingly humble. “My only dream at the time was to be lucky enough to wash 20 motorbikes each day, so I could earn 140,000vnd (about 5usd) per day,” he recalls. To achieve that goal, he worked everyday from 7am to 7pm.
When Tung’s former teacher told him about STREETS, his older brother straightaway suggested that he should apply. Unfortunately, Tung was only 15 years old and too young to join. The STREETS program did not forget about him, and more than a year later, they came to the motorbike-cleaning shop where he still worked and asked him to re-apply. His older brother saw the opportunity and did everything he could to support Tung’s move to Hoi An to study. “It was the first time in my life that I had to live apart from my brothers. I was worried and afraid of learning anything new,” Tung says. Theenthusiasm of the teachers and staff at STREETS helped him grow from a shy boy who could not even understand the simplest English like “What is your name?” into a confident, fluent English speaker. Language class became his favorite subject thanks to a teacher who “had a special talent to make difficult knowledge fun and easy to remember.”
On the day Tung graduated from the 18-month program and stepped onto the stage to receive his certificate, he saw his brothers in the crowd cheering him on. He nearly burst into tears. He could hardly believe that he could speak English and had the skills and knowledge to start a culinary career that would support him and his family for the rest of his life.
Tung continued to improve while working for six month at the STREETS Restaurant Café after he graduated. His work paid off and he was employed as a Commis Chef at several high-end hotels and resorts in the area including the Pullman Da Nang Beach Resort and the Hotel Hilton Da Nang. Recognizing his top-notch culinarytalents and English abilities, the Hilton awarded him “Employee of the Month” and provided many opportunities for further development including a recent trip to India to support Hilton colleagues there.
Thanks to the skills gained at STREETS, Tung now has a career with a stable income that allows him to repay his brothers’ sacrifices. “Last year we renovated our house and I can’t fully express the pride I felt when sharing my success with my family