Nguyen Do Van Vu’s foster mother lost her eyesight in a tragic battle during the war with America. Disfigured and depressed she chose to live alone and impoverished for the rest of her life. Yet, when she met Vu, an abandoned infant in their small, poor village by the Thu Bon River in Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam, her mother instincts overwhelmed her and she couldn’t turn him away. Knocking on the door of each house in the village, she asked for milk for Vu and proceeded to raise him.
It was not easy for a blind single woman to raise a child. Though she worked as hard as possible, some difficulties were insurmountable. When Vu was in grade 10, he had to go to live at an orphanage in order to continue his studies, returning home most weekends to be with his foster mother.
Thanks to an introduction from the orphanage, after finishing high school, Vu applied and was accepted into the STREETS training program. His fond memories of his foster mother cooking only by touch, taste and smell compelled Vu to choose to study culinary arts. Despite being a shy student, he quickly learned about important life skills, hygiene, communication, team work and professional development.
On his graduation day, Vu drove to his home village to pick his mother up to attend one of the happiest moments in his life. He then chose to work in the STREETS Restaurant Café after his training so he could be near his foster mother and take care of her.
Since then he has maintained and nurtured a very special relationship with STREETS. Similar to the way he studied, Vu has quietly, patiently and diligently worked very hard to continually improve his chef skills. In fact, he advanced to the Head Chef position at both STREETS eateries in Hoi An, where he is the leader of a 10 member culinary team. He alsoparticipates in teaching younger Trainees twice a week.
He shares that, “When seeing them in the kitchen for the first time, I feel like I’m seeing myself several years ago. Even when they are struggling with new skills and knowledge, I am very patient tohelp them because I myself received the same generosity from the other Chefs and teachers.” Vu still goes back and forth between his workplace and home to take care of his aging foster mother.
He said, “I was raised up by her immense love and thanks to the education I received, I have a stable career with STREETS and I can pay back to her. This year, I saved enough money to renovate the rotten roof of our house.”