The East Meets West Foundation's 'Life is Beautiful' initiative is an international humanitarian media campaign that aims to raise funds for impoverished people living with disabilities in Vietnam.
In Vietnam more than 5.3 million people live with disability, caused by birth defects, illness or injuries. At least 3 million of these are suspected to be related to Agent Orange exposure.
As part of this campaign the East Meets West Foundation, using a panel of experts, selected the top 10 Best Program Models in December 2009. Much to the delight of Hold the Future the Center was selected as one of the top models.
Hold the Future's efforts in providing vocational training, job placement and mainstreaming of disabled youth into the community have been recognized as being the best in Vietnam in this category of care for disabled youth.
The Center was established in 2002 with an initial group of ten people. At its inception the facility was a handicraft production center offering disabled young people an opportunity to earn a living.
During 2007 Hold the Future received its first training sponsorship from Caritas Germany. This allowed the center to provide disabled youth with more skills in the form of vocational training on making traditional Vietnamese handicraft with the result that the Center could offer a larger range of products for sale.
The sponsorship by Caritas Germany has continued and during the recent training initiative it became possible to add some soft-skills training as well as basic education involving reading, writing, numeracy and sign language.
Currently the Center is looking for further sponsorship in order to extend this offering to include entry-level business skills as well as courses and workshops on Management and Leadership.
The Director of the Center, Le Minh Hia, herself disabled due to a serious accident during her University student years, is not only involved in the Center's day to day running. Her energy has also been spent in promoting the well-being of disabled people as a whole as well as spending time on advocacy work in various other associations and community groups. Mrs Hia is Chairwoman of the Ba Dinh District Disabled Community Group or DPO.
She is Vice President of DP Hanoi, (Disability Hanoi) which is an organization that supports disabled people, their associations and businesses. It also actively promotes the integration of disabled people into the work environment.
The Center is also a member of VABED (Vietnam Association of Business Enterprises of Persons with Disabilities) and a registered member of the NGO Vietnam save Disabled Children.
For news and articles on the achievements of the Center follow its blog at holdthefuture.org