An’s dream and her life impacting event
An was born with normal vision, and had aspirations for the future that were supported by her parents. She aspired to become a teacher to help other children like herself to escape from poverty through education.
Unfortunately, her dream never came true.
One day An was diagnosed having macular degeneration, an eye disease. Due to the eye disease her vision became blurred very rapidly. Unfortunately, the disease could not be treated and An gradually lost her vision completely.
“I had to accept that I would become a blind one day in the future,” An remembered from when she was first diagnosed.
“It was harsh and hopeless,” she added.
This life impacting event changed her pathway forever. From a young girl, active and full of excitement about exploring the world and developing a career path An was now very reliant on her parents.
An had to give up her dream of becoming a teacher, even though she had just completed 4 years of studying at a pedagogical university and was close to finishing studies to become a mathematics teacher.
In Viet Nam, persons with a disability like An always struggle to fully engage in economic or social activities. An was somewhat more fortunate than many visually impaired people because she has a higher education qualification that allowed her to get a tutoring job at home.
An then met and married her husband. They had 3 children. Each time she had a child, An’s eyes condition became worse and worse. After the third child she was technically blind. As a result, she had to terminate her tutoring job making her family life more difficult.
A vocational training and employment opportunity for An
In March 2020, the Step Up project, an initiative of REACH in partnership with the Hanoi Association of Blind, was launched in Hanoi. The project aims to improve visually impaired people’s wellbeing through vocational training and job placement, as well as providing various soft skills.
As a member of the Hanoi Association of Blind, An was introduced to the telesales course offered by REACH.
“I always wished to have a job to support my husband and family so when the training and job placement opportunity came I immediately took it up, without any hesitation.”, An said.
Along with 10 other young visually impaired people from Hanoi, An made up the first vocational course of the Step Up project in 2020.
For An and her classmates, just to cross Hanoi’s chaotic and crowded streets to come to the class every day was a real challenge. However, An was never absent or missed any lessons.
After many years of being self-isolated, An, for the first time, found herself re-connected with community. She enjoyed the dynamic and passionate learning atmosphere in the class, where a lot of knowledge and experiences were shared by her teachers and friends.
“We had most curious students at this class,” said Hiep Hoang, the telesales teacher at REACH. “When they listened, they listened very carefully. When they asked, they asked a lot.”
“Visually impaired people are sensitive and they are truly active listeners. And so they can respond exactly to your questions.” Hiep added.
These are important personality traits and skills for a successful salesperson. And, An has proven that.
An’s determination and achievement
An is currently a core salesperson at a Japanese washing machine company. She is assigned to manage the wholesaler customer sector of the company and to train new sales staff. The job helps An earn a decent income that she is now able to better take care of her family.
Thinking about the first days when she entered this new field of work, An said:
“I had a number of challenges when I started my job. But I have been so fortunate to have received great support from my manager and my colleagues which I cannot be more grateful.”
“I always tell new staffs, like my teacher used to do to me, that to fully understand the products and services being sold is the key to a successful salesperson.”
REACH delivers programs to disadvantaged youth who have been denied the opportunity for post-secondary study and skill development. More recently REACH has engaged with young persons who have been denied full participation in employment and community life due to a disability. REACH’s Step Up program is a response to addressing this issue.
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