The problem of street children in Vietnam is one of the most pressing problems in the country today, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Children and youth end up on the street for different reasons. Some have escaped from broken families or domestic violence, for others street life is a means of earning income for their families. In addition, the breakdown of traditional family values and community structures leaves these youth without necessary care and support for their growth and development. Street children/youth do not have full knowledge of their rights, and often are unaware of the risks in urban life. They are vulnerable to all forms of exploitation and abuse, especially girls who are at the greatest risk of sexual exploitation. Although visible on the streets, they are also among the most ‘invisible’ and therefore hardest young people to reach with services such as education or healthcare, and the most difficult to protect. Their lives are hard and their future is limited as suggested by the Vietnamese name for them: “dust of life”.
In 1998, Vietnamese-Australian Jimmy Pham set up a not-for-profit called Street Voices working with street children and starting a simple sandwich shop in Hanoi in 1999. In 2007, Street Voices was renamed KOTO “Know one, teach one”, underlying its philosophy that knowledge is meant to be shared and the notion of former participants paying it forward with younger youth. KOTO decided to give street and at-risk youth in both the city and rural communities, the chance they deserve. KOTO’s mission is that they should have access to holistic and vocational skills development, in a nurturing environment, where each young person builds their potential and self-confidence, and is empowered to live a life of dignity and independence. KOTO runs two programs: the KOTO Foundation and the KOTO Social Enterprise.
EMpower’s 4th grant to KOTO provides operational support to fund critical elements of their strategic planning for the next 2 years such as staff and leadership development and improvement of staff appraisal and program monitoring and evaluations.
Primary Location: Hanoi
Funded Since: 2008
Our Underwriters pay for all of our administrative and fundraising costs, so 100% of your donation goes directly to empowering at-risk youth.