Helping An Army Veteran Bond with His Family

What activities do you want to engage in after you retire? For those who didn’t have a hobby, they may end up finding their days boring, spending time mostly on sleeping, watching television or being grumpy. But Dang Dam Tuan, a Vietnamese army veteran, tried to stay active and energetic after retiring from the military service. He found his days interesting and rewarding, not because of traveling or going to the gym, but by discovering new adventures and new joys that could last for the rest of his life: taking care of his family, and learning new things by participating in the computer training program at an ADOC.

Dang Dam Tuan spent his youth as a serviceman in the Viet Nam People’s Army. He could not spend much time at home because of his military career. Therefore, after retiring from the army, he committed himself to his family, especially taking care of his two grandchildren. Looking after these two kids gave him tremendous joy, and brought him on an unexpected journey: learning computer skills.

His wife bought a computer for their grandchildren. It didn’t take long for the kids to break the computer and render it inoperative. His wife came to him and asked him to fix the computer, but he couldn’t do anything because he knew nothing about computers. At that moment, he realized that he had entered a new era of the digital revolution, in which computers and the Internet have become indispensable in the daily life of many people. He consequently felt bad about himself for lagging behind the trend.

Although many senior people feel that the digital devices are too complicated to learn and refuse to adapt to new technology, Dang Dam Tuan, however, had a different perspective and mindset. He understood the importance of learning basic computer skills in the current digital age. Now that he had the will, he needed to find the way. He asked friends and relatives to find out where he could learn computer skills. Before long, one of his relatives told him about the ADOC, an institute that provides small businesses and individuals, especially women, youth and disadvantaged, the training on basic information and communications technology skills and e-commerce practices.

At his first visit to the center, Dang Dam Tuan was so impressed by ADOC’s clean facilities, modern computers and Internet access that he registered for the courses right on the spot. Dang Dam Tuan was happy with the courses. “The teachers were so enthusiastic and reassured me that I would soon know all about computers,” he said. After only three months of training, he already knew the basics, such as how to install and configure the operating system and how to use Microsoft Word and other application programs.

Most importantly, he also learned how to use the Internet to get online to collect information when helping his grandchildren with their homework. “Thanks to the ADOC project, I have confidence in fixing the computer at home whenever the kids break it or if there is an error,” he said. “I no longer fear this new technology and have found a way to bond with my grandchildren, compensating for all those years I was away from them.”

Since ADOC was established in Viet Nam in 2005, more than 100,000 people have benefitted from its computer training programs. Dang Dam Tuan is among the beneficiaries, who have received new skills and opportunities from the center to build up their confidence in using technology. This acquired confidence is another great joy that he has received durig his retirement. The ADOC project has helped him bridge the technology gap between him and his grandkids and further helped him to better connect with them.

Empowering Abused Women

Hoa was born and grew up in a poor village in the mountainous area of Thanh Hoa Province, which is located in the North Central coastal region of Viet Nam. Those living in remote villages in upland areas are the poorest, with limited resources and for any development. Therefore, it is common for the youth to commit themselves to hard work for the sake of the family at an early age. Many young men and women in Hoa’s village would cross provincial borders and search for jobs in farms. Hoa, although terrified by the thought of being far away from home, thought about taking the same path. The difficult circumstances her family struggled with became a motivation stronger than her doubts. She decided to leave the village and follow the footsteps of other young people.

Early one morning in 2007, Hoa packed her personal belongings and left her village. Young and innocent, she didn’t know how complicated the society outside the village could be. She never expected that the adventure in crossing the border would turn out to be a crossing into the reality of a cruel world. She didn’t work in the farm as she had planned. Instead, she fell into the hands of human-traffickers and was forced to become a prostitute.

Sold to a brothel, Hoa suffered physical and psychological abuses. After managing to escape, she received intense family care and long hours of counseling at the Center for Women and Development to help her overcome the painful experience and start a new and positive life. With support from her family and the center, she was slowly able to rebuild her self-esteem and the ability to socialize with others. Gradually, she started to regain trust in other people.

The Center for Women and Development in Viet Nam is an institution to protect and help abused women. It provides activities and programs, such as psycho-social counseling, physical support and health care, to those victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. In addition to these activities, the center also offers vocational training and career guidance to empower women. From the center, Hoa learned about the APEC Digital Opportunity Center, or ADOC, and its training program in information and communication technologies.

Despite her painful past, Hoa never forgot her goal of helping her family and providing financial assistance to her parents. She felt that the ADOC 2.0 project could help her reach the goal. Hoa registered for the center’s training program without hesitation.

At one of the 19 ADOC centers established in Viet Nam as of 2014, Hoa took computer courses for four months. From the courses, she not only learnt about computers and the basics of operating system, but also the internet and its most popular applications. She was introduced to Microsoft Office sutie, such as Word and Excel. During her training at the center, Hoa was regarded as diligent and hardworking. Upon her completing the courses, the center referred her to a job opportunity and provided a recommendation letter for her.

Thanks to her new computer skills, her strong determination and the tremendous support from the Center for Women’s Development and ADOC, Hoa was soon hired for her newly acquired ICT skills. The road to a better life may have been rugged and winding , even costing her innocence, but her diligence and determination finally paid off. With a decent salary, Hoa is now able to live a comfortable life. Most importantly, she has the ability to send some money back to her village to help her family. A bright future is waiting for her.