Student Stories

Nguyen Phan Thuy Linh

Even though it’s been five years, Linh still finds it difficult to talk about her father’s leaving. She hasn’t heard from him since but she knows from the other villagers that he has a new wife and family.

Husbandless, Linh’s mother became the primary earner for their family, which includes Linh and her younger sister. Each day, her mother would travel to trade beans and rice, earning a meager income of around VND2.5million per month. On this salary, they barely lived above the poverty line. But her mother later became unemployed due to a bad harvest.

Now, in their tiny house at their family’s church, they dedicated half of their space to raising pigs. Their bedroom was a tiny 1.5m long room with a mattress and a single window – but they had to keep it closed to keep out the toxic smell of the pigsty in the other room. Raising pigs is a risky choice but they had few other options. Sometimes the pigs get sick and die and there's no way to recover the lost money. Recently, two out of their three pigs died from disease.

With no money, Linh dropped out of 9th grade to work as a server at a nearby restaurant in Quang Tri Province, earning VND1million per month; it wasn’t much but it helped the family. But six months later, she quit after being verbally abused by drunk guests at the restaurant.

Still eager to work, Linh took up tailoring, but after two years she had to resign due to her poor eyesight. It was after this, when she was approached by REACH graduates at a community event that she decided to work in skincare.

As a REACH Skincare student in Hue, Linh says that she was excited to go back to school. “What I loved most was meeting the teachers and making friends, and also learning life skills such as confidence building, time management and self-esteem".

Moving forward, she is nervous but excited about a potential job opportunity when she finishes studying in a few weeks. If she succeeds, she will be a skincare specialist, working at the Thanh Tan Resort spa in Hue. 

Other students

  • Ngo Van Nhuong

    Ngo Van Nhuong knows what it’s like to grow up in a crowded house. He, his two sisters, his younger brother, his mother and his father all live together in a small 20-square meter hut just outside Hoi An ancient town. His married sister’s home is far away but she has moved back in to look for work. There is only one bed so Nhuong, his father and his brother sleep on the floor.
  • Nguyen Thi Trieu Anh

    Nguyen Thi Trieu Anh’s father left when she was just 12 years old, but she still remembers him. She remembers the countless times he got drunk and beat her and her younger brother. The abuse was so frequent that when he left, she finally felt safe.
  • Nguyen Thi Ngoc Yen

    From the moment you meet Yen, you can instantly tell she is very responsible for a person her age. Being a carer for her elderly parents has meant she has always known the importance of looking after family. Her 60-year old mother cannot stand for more than five minutes due to Sciatica. Her father, 64, is an unemployed fisherman, recently affected by the widely publicized dead fish epidemic plaguing central Vietnam.
  • Nguyen Huu Manh

    What do you think about a dot in the middle of a blank page? Without any hesitation, some people might say “It is just a black dot!”, or “simply nothing”. But for Manh, “No matter how ugly that black dot is, it is the starting point to continue drawing the picture of your life.”
  • Pham Van Cuong

    Cuong is 22, and comes from the Muong, a ethnic minority group in Vietnam. His family lives in Ngoc Lac, one of the poor mountainous districts in Thanh Hoa province. His family is under preferential treatment.