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Published: April 23rd 2008
TRAN THI THANH
Look out Melbourne, here I come!
It is with much excitement that Lifestart Foundation welcomes TRAN THI THANH and LE QUANG GHI to Melbourne, Australia.
Thanh and Ghi are two outstanding young people who are involved in the Lifestart Foundation Jobstart Program.
They will arrive in Melbourne on Thursday the 24th. of April and will commence their traineeships with one of Australia's leading wedding dress and couture designers, MARIANA HARDWICK on May the 5th.
Thanh has been involved with Lifestart Foundation for a number of years. She originally came to my attention as a young girl who was being extremely exploited at her place of employment. Thanh was working 7 days a week for up to 18 hours per day, she had no accommodation and was forced to sleep on the floor of the restaurant when it closed late at night. She was caught in a vicious cycle, with no time to even look for alternative employment. Her meagre salary was only enough for food.
Thanh comes from an island off the coast of Vietnam, her family are farmers. Like many young people Thanh was forced to come to Hoi An in search of work as there were no opportunities for her on
LE QUANG GHI
Ghi is pictured at his place of training in Hoi An.
He will think he has "died and gone to heaven" when he steps into his new workplace and conditions at Mariana Hardwick in Melbourne, Australia.
When Thanh and I first met she could barely say three words in English. Today, a mere three years later Thanh speaks fluent English and has regularily acted as a translator for myself and Dr. Josh Solomon in Vietnam.
Lifestart has mentored and supported Thanh through the Jobstart program. Her initial training was at the very beautiful VICTORIA HOTEL RESORT in Hoi An, where she trained as a masseuse and beauty therapist. After completeing her training in record time Thanh was offered a full time position in this luxury resort. The training and subsequent work conditions were a dream come true.
Thanh worked at the Resort for two years, long enough for her to have a glimpse at a life that is usually reserved for those who have either money, luck or opportunity. Thanh didn't have money but luck and opportunity were knocking at her door.
She had proven herself to be a most worthy candidate for the "opportunity of a lifetime".
MARIANA HARDWICK and I have been in discussion for sometime now and in one of our many lunches " THE PLAN " was hatched.
Mariana has initially offered two amazing traineeship opportunites to
GHI & HIS FAMILY
Ghi's family have a small noodle shop on Highway 1, between Hue and Danang. Our November bike ride will travel right past their doorstep. I hope we can take time out for a quick meal with them. Ghi is pictured here with his mother, father and three of his five siblings.
Lifestart youth. " THE PLAN " is in it's embrionic stage, however in our long term vision we are hoping to create a "Jamie's Kitchen " of fashion in Hoi An ( the fashion capital of Vietnam.) Ghi and Thanh will return to Vietnam at the end of their training, with their exemplary skillS under their respective belts, they will then head up an operation in Hoi An.
The main focus of this project is not to bring two underprivelidged kids to Australia for the experience of a lifetime. I am sure that they will have that and so much more, however the last thing that Vietnam needs is to be drained of its finest young people. The aim is to train these young people up to a level of excellence perhaps not seen previously in Vietnam and transplant them back into Vietnam to " pass on the knowledge"
Thanh is one of our Lifestart success stories and I have no doubt she will continue to grab hold of every opportunity afforded her and make the very best of it.
Father Peter Hansen introduced Ghi to me as a potential candidate for the second position.
Ghi is pictured translating for Tung, who featured in my last blog. An update on Tung is on the way.
one of my all to infrequent Starbucks coffee catch ups with Father Peter, I told him about the traineeship opportunity with Mariana Hardwick.
Father Peter has had Ghi under his wing for about 10 years so Ghi came highly recommended. Ghi had completed year twelve and had just finished his two year compulsory stint in the Vietnamese Army.........he was at a loose end.
Ghi comes from a large family and the prospects for work were not good in the small village that he lived in. He had good English skills, a result of a life juggling school and selling on the street to tourists. Ghi has had intensive English classes for the past ten month's and has also acted as an almost indispensible translator for myself.
I will miss both Thanh and Ghi's help tremendously in Vietnam, however their arrival in Australia will create a space for another young person to step up to the plate and continue where they have left off.............the added bonus is that Ghi and Thanh will live with me and my two pooches in Melbourne.
Ghi and Thanh will be in Australia for at least one year and possibly up to
Thanh is pictured with Dr. John Sherman from Melbourne, Australia. Dr. John recently volunteered for Lifestart in Vietnam and Thanh was able to assist with translating.
three years. Whilst they will be busy on weekdays with their training, I am hoping that our Lifestart supporters may be able to help me show them a little or a lot of our wonderful country. If you are able to host Thanh and Ghi on a weekend to show them "your part" of Australia it would be sincerely appreciated.
Alternately, if you or your family are having a day outing on the weekend that you think they may enjoy ( that could include just about anything as nearly everything will be a first and new experience for them!!!) please let me know.
I am also looking for ESL teachers who would like to volunteer to continue with Ghi and Thanh's English classes whilst they are in Australia. If you are close to Essendon or Brunswick ( where they will be training) that would be a bonus. They would be able to attend ESL lessons of an evening.
I know that many of our supporters have met Thanh and Ghi when you have visited Hoi An so if you would like to catch up with them this weekend we will be at Lentil As Anything, St. Heliers Street. Abbotsford. Melbourne from about 12pm til 2pm for lunch, Sunday 27th.
Lots of Love from Karen.
P.S I have just arrived back from Vietnam so my apologies for the lack of contact. Rest assured my head is crammed full with a thousand stories fighting for my brain space! I will attempt to get them into blog format asap.
-Saturday 26th of April. Lifestart Foundation Volunteer meeting at 182 Buckley Street, Essendon. 9am-1pm. If you would like to help out and get involved please come along. Register your interest with Karen on 93312540.
-BLACK TIE CHRISTMAS IN JULY FUNDRAISER
-Lifestart Foundation Annual Dinner Dance and Charity Auction.
-July 26th. Tickets are now on sale. $70 per head. Tables of 10 and 12
-501 Receptions, 501 Barkly Street, Footscray, Melbourne.
-3 course dinner, wine and beer included.
-7 piece band. Minute by Minute
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