After a thirty-year hiatus, Vietnamese German Francis Van Hoi, 67, returned to his childhood roots in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2014 and opened a vocational school named Anre Mai Sen for disadvantaged youth.
Located in the Binh Thanh District of HCM City, the Anre Mai Sen vocational school offers career vocational training courses on both cooking and hotel management for needy youth.
The school provides education (including English language instruction) room and board all for US$7,300 (VND165 million), which repayment is deferred until after graduation and then payable in instalments over a 15-year period.
For those with special extenuating circumstances, the fees are reduced substantially, notes Mr Francis Van Hoi. Presently, the school has more than 100 enrolees, under the guidance of top-notch foreign instructors.
Most notably, an18-year old youth, Tran Van Tai, has recently received a lot of public attention due to his exceptional culinary skills.
Two years ago, Tai along with his mother and older brother were living on the streets of HCM City. Penniless, Tai had no hope of ever pursuing any type of advanced education, let alone a career as a professional chef.
However, Mr Hoi happened by chance to encounter Tai and persuaded him to enrol in the school to study the art of cooking so that he could earn a stable income to support himself and his family.
Under the experienced guidance of Mr Hoi and the school faculty, Tai has now become a first-rate chef and with an exceptional ability to cook both Asian and European dishes with culinary finesse.
Mr Hoi has always taken the time to listen and let us shareour feelings says Tai, adding that thanks to Mr Hoi, we have learned that our life can change for the better if we knuckle down, apply ourselves and study hard.
Providing opportunities to needy children
Although Mr Hoi has yet to collect any fees from students attending the vocational school, the educational institution has maintained the highest of standards for its educational classes.
Most of the lecturers at Mai Sen are professional chefs, hotel managers, or English instructors from Germany or the UK. Thanks to these top-rated professionals, the youth attending the school have been given the opportunity of a lifetime at a future they never could have dreamed of absent the school.
Another exemplary example is, Y Muih, a Bana ethnic student from Kon Tum Province who says he has developed a passion for cooking after just one year of study at the school.
He is confident that with his newly acquired cooking and English language skills, he can now find a good job to support himself and his elderly parents, who are poor and reside in the countryside.
Mr Hoi also provides students with practical skills at the school through real world experiences working in his restaurant, cooking and serving meals to customers as part of their training.
He uses the profits from the restaurant and other business activities to organize outdoor and exchange programs for students at the school.
In the upcoming months, the first students from the vocational school will graduate and receive international certificates attesting to their accomplishment as to having received the prerequisite training for their chosen professions.
My hope is to get further funding to organize more training programs and purchase more up-to-date modernized teaching tools and other equipment to help youth shape their professional skills, says Mr Hoi.
He also hopes to train a new generation, who are qualified to run the school and expand the invaluable educational services it provides so the school can continue ad infinitum serving the needs of poor Vietnamese youth.