Hanoi, Vietnam: I recently met Trang Nguyen, a 22 year old, born around the time economic reform began here in 1986. After telling her that I had visited and worked with the orphanage where she was brought up, she shared her story and her hopes for the future with me:
Trang was born into a poor rural family in Central Vietnam. At the age of six, she was placed in an orphanage in nearby Danang. The orphanage put her through school, and when her time came to enter the workforce, a partnering international NGO, spearheaded by an Australian, sponsored her to undertake hospitality training in Ha Noi. Now at 22, she has been working at one of Ha Noi’s newest five star hotels for the past year and a half. She makes enough money to send some home to her family who were too poor to raise her. Her mentors over the years have been humanitarian businessmen and she hopes to step in their footsteps. One day, she hopes to have enough money to be able not only to support herself and her family, but give back to the orphanage that raised her and that continues to provide hope for children in central Vietnam.
Subtly woven into her life story are the opportunities that a globalized development network can create, from the orphanage and the hospitality training school, to her career in the hospitality industry in one of the world’s top hotel chains, in Hanoi, catering to an increasing number of foreign businessmen and tourists entering Vietnam. These opportunities would have been unthinkable in the early ‘80s in Vietnam, and I believe they speak to the value of partnerships/cross-sector partnerships, where development is working.