“The work REACH does is inspiring; over my time with them I have spoken with many people from employers, to students, staff and teachers and the feeling I come away with is always the same – people caring for each other to ensure they get the opportunities in life they deserve and so many others take for granted.”

Australian volunteer Chris Hindes is speaking, having recently begun his second Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) assignment with Hanoi-based non-profit vocational training organisation REACH. For many disadvantaged young people in Vietnam REACH is the last hope for gaining the skills needed to join the workforce. Established in 2004 REACH has now helped more than 14,000 disadvantaged young people gain stable employment. Students include street and migrant youth, school dropouts, and unemployed secondary school graduates and disadvantaged youth from ethnic minorities. Victims of trafficking, domestic violence and those living with HIV are also encouraged to train through REACH.

Since its inception REACH has developed a wide network of nearly 1000 business who willingly take their graduates. The list includes many 5 Star Hotel chains including the InterContinental, Hilton, JW Marriott and Sheraton to name but a few. Over an intensive three to six month period students are trained in the skills needed to get a start in their chosen industry. Hairdressing, cooking, graphic design, sales and marketing, 3D Modelling and computer coding are all taught by skilled instructors many of whom are also REACH graduates. The results speak for themselves with more than 1,100 students being trained each year and over 80% gaining stable employment within 6 months of graduation. And the story keeps getting better with over 50% receiving a pay rise or promotion in their first year of employment.

Chris’s two assignments have been with the REACH Communications and Fundraising Team in Hanoi, working to produce a series of videos showcasing REACH, its students, staff and enterprises. Having spent more than forty years in the media, and running his own production company for more than 17 years, for Chris the opportunity to pass on some of this knowledge has been a dream come true. “Working with talented and enthusiastic people has been a real joy and an experience that I will long remember,” he says.

During Chris’s two three month assignments REACH staff are being taught the basics of video production, from concept development, through all stages of production and finally editing and post-production. In all, some eleven videos will be produced and three staff members will be fully trained. The training has been two-way and Chris is now an (almost) fully competent Karaoke singer, he is affectionately known in the office as “Bac Rapper”.

Chris’s assignment was delivered under the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program – an Australian Government initiative. Each assignment was developed by Australian Business Volunteers who are working in consortium with Scope Global, a delivery partner of the AVID program.

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