Our Success Stories

Thao A De

Grateful for SapaO'Chau's support

I come from a farming family, my parents only know how to work really hard on their farm every day to earn a living and to bring us up. Not only that, I was born the 6th of 13 siblings -- you can imagine how difficult it is to raise and educate 13 children! But ever since I was a child, I’ve aspired to go to university to widen my knowledge, and then go back to help my family as well as the poor children in my village escape out of poverty.

anh tot nghiep 38
Thus, after graduating from the Lao Cai Province Ethnic Minority Boarding High School, I decided to leave my hometown for Ha Noi to get higher education and find the way to help my hometown. At that time, people thought that my ambition seemed to be unrealistic, illusory and time-consuming as in my village, nobody wants to go to school, they just spend time working on the farms, selling handicraft products to the visitors on the streets to earn money and they get married when they are 15 or 16. However, whatever they said I still kept going ahead, trying my best to fulfill my dream.

I chose the University of Hanoi Pedagogy 1 with a hope of bringing the words back to teach the poor kids in my village and I was so lucky to pass the entrance examination.

But ironically, everything was not as I expected, it was my greatest dream but a burden to my family as they were unable to support me to study at university for 4 years. Thus, my parents had to borrow 6 millions with interest of 50% so that I could go to HaNoi to live and start studying and reaching my dream.

Unfortunately, on the way to Ha Noi, a thief stole all the money they borrowed for me. Then being out of money on the first day in Ha Noi, I couldn't pay for the initial school fee to get enrolled. After that, the teachers in my department lent me an amount of 2 millions to pay the school fee and survive until the end of the month. Then I asked my dad to borrow more money to pay back my teachers.

Being in a debt put my family into serious financial difficulty, and my parents constantly called me back home. They wanted me to stop my study and drop out of university. But I was determined to keep going on. I found a part time job to earn money to pay for the school fee and many other daily expenses. Struggling for 2 years to survive and exist in Hanoi, I always had to think and worry about how to get enough money for food and for my study.

Then, when I became a third year student at university, I was so lucky to get to know Sapa O'Chau. I shared my story with Ms. Shu and all the difficulties I was struggling with, and then the organization decided to give me a scholarship of 10 millions per year, which actually helped me a lot. With the support from Sapa O’Chau plus the amount that I got from working part time, I no longer had to worry about what to eat everyday, how to survive, and I could spend more time studying.

From that time onwards, I considered Sapa O’Chau as my second family, where the uncles and aunts in the Board of Management always stayed by my side and helped me overcome difficulties in life. They worried about me, shared my sorrows and happiness, and taught me many useful lifeskills. They always encouraged me to not only focus on learning but also take part in many outdoor and social activities.

While I was studying at university, I got a total of 4 medals, including 2 gold medals, 1 silver medal and 1 bronze medal. Among them, one medal I got was in a national competition for all the pedagogic universities and colleges in Vietnam. I'm so happy to have Sapa O’Chau help me deal with those difficult days living and studying in the bustle, crowd and luxury of Ha Noi. I've been learning a lot from Sapa O’Chau about how to be a good person and how to plan for my future. I grew up and became much more mature. My dream is step by step coming true, the first bright smile I had was the one Sapa O’Chau gave to me.

To be honest, since I’ve received this support from Sapa O’Chau, my academic performance has improved significantly. The second semester of the first year, my study results were very low because I had to worry about how to earn a living, but in the last 2 years I was not thinking of anything but learning, so I always made it to the top of my whole class as well as leading in all social and outdoor activities. I was the only one in my department's history to get many medals in 2 years. (I got 4 out of a total of 6 medals for the whole department; among them all the gold and silver medals are mine). Finally, I graduated with a BA degree, which was quite rare in that course.

I am very proud and grateful for Sapa O’Chau's support during the last2 years I studied at university. But that's not the end; after graduation, I came back to work for SOC. Then I had an income to cover my daily expenses and to save up for my future, as well as to pay the money for the bank loan that my dad had borrowed for me to go to university in the first 2 years.

Although I know my thanks will never be enough, I still want to say thank you to Sapa O’Chau for not only giving me an opportunity to satisfy my thirst for knowledge and finish my education but also helping the first part of my dream come true: escaping from poverty and becoming a useful person for my community.

Now I'm working on the staff of SapaO’Chau, and I will try my best to bring all that I have learned to help Sapa O’Chau, and continue to fulfill my dream. May Sapa O’Chau keep doing its great work and become more and more successful in the future!

Once again, I would like to send my most sincere thanks to SapaO’Chau, which has helped me in every way to become who I am today.

Best regards,
Thao A De


Sung A Chinh


Chinh is a Hmong Minority from Y Linh Ho village. He finished his Junior High School (Grade 9) but could not speak English or have the skills needed to get a job. Chinh heard about the support Sapa O'Chau was offering young ethnic minority people and thought it was a good opportunity. He attended Sapa O’Chau’s English classes and then Tour Guide training. Sapa O’Chau helped him to get his local tour guide license. Chinh gained experience and became a great member of our tour guide team. Started to learn French with the Tourist Information Centre / Aquitaine Project. Now on the path to becoming Sapa's first English & French speaking Hmong guide. Dreams of a career in tourism.

Ly Thi Thuy

thuyThuy is a Tay Minority from Hop Thanh village. Finished her Junior High School (Grade 9) and came to Sapa looking for work. She could not find a good job because she lacked skills & qualifications. Her family could not support her financially Thuy discovered Sapa O’Chau and asked for help. Sapa O'Chau helped her to enroll at the Yen Bai School of Economics so that she could complete her high school and at the same time study accounting. Sapa O’Chau pays for her accommodation & fees. She graduated in September 2014 and is currently working in Sapa O'Chau as an accountant. 

Hang Thi Lee 

LeeLee is a Hmong Minority from Ta Van village. She never went to school because she needed to help her family. Lee became a child street seller at the age of 12. In 2010, she joined Sapa O’Chau. She studied English and learnt to read and write for the first time. Sapa O’Chau enrolled her at Sapa’s Center for Continuing Education. Lee started at Grade 6 - Now in Grade 11! Currently, she is doing an internship at the Sapa O'Chau office, learning Community Development and Sales & Marketing. Lee wants to graduate from high school. Travel around Asia and then the world!


Legacy 2014

*70 students trained as tour guides

*50 students continue education and vocation training programs

*11 homestays supported to date

*1 homestay in Lao Chai built by SOC

*15 students graduated from external training programs

*30 trekking guides employed by SOC

*20 trekking guides that have gone on to work in other trekking businesses

*Over 100 volunteers have been helped to date

*12 families benefited from help of SOC to date

Please check out our facebook page for updates of our legacy for 2015 and beyond