KOTO – Know One Teach One

koto hanoi, hanoi restaurant, paper lanterns, white paper lanterns, globe lightsA year ago this month, my Mom and I took a trip of a lifetime together to Vietnam and Cambodia.

Before the trip, my daughter selected the book Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke for our mother-daughter book club, it takes place in Hanoi. I read it before leaving to be sure I could bring back relevant details and photos for the girls. KOTO is highlighted in the book and it was on my list of places to get to.

In one of those law-of-attraction moments, on our first night in Hanoi, only hours after landing, our guide gave us a run down of the next day. Quang told us the itinerary has “lunch on our own” scheduled but he hoped we didn’t mind that he had made a reservation for us to eat together at a place called KOTO. My jaw dropped, I gasped and I flung my head to look at my Mom who understood my excitement.

Perfect! I would be taken directly to the one place not on the official tour that I wanted to see.mother daughter traveling together, traveling with your mom, vietnam tours, odyssey tours, southeast asia travel, visiting vietnam,

KOTO stands for Know One Teach One. It was founded by Jimmy Pham in 2000 to train Vietnamese street kids in English, hospitality and life skills giving them valuable experience to find jobs and improve their lives.koto waitress, street kids in vietnam, learning hospitality skills, self sufficiency vs entitlements, using chopsticks, The two-year program is free for the trainees to attend. A quote from Jimmy Pham on the KOTO menu reads: “I knew the youths needed skills and jobs to earn a living to have a better life and from this KOTO was born.”

On our visit, my Mom ordered Nem-lui which our waitress showed her how to wrap. The menu described it as “minced pork grilled on lemon grass served with rice paper, local herbs and a sweet and sour dipping sauce.” I ordered Bun Bo Nam Bo (“wok fried beef on rice noodles with fresh mixed herbs, peanuts, lime, chili and garlic”) and we both enjoyed the traditional Vietnamese meals with our first local beer of our 20 day adventure.

As a mother, learning about the street kids while in Vietnam and in the heartwarming, entrepreneurial story of Noodle Pie, I was moved and impressed by KOTO.

Creating a pathway for self-sufficiency and personal growth is a gift to these kids. The KOTO model builds pride, confidence and allows these kids to see value in themselves. Koto exterior, Hanoi electrical wires, tet, new year in Vietnam, hospitality training program,

bun bo nam bo, recipe for vietnamese foods, traditional vietnamese noodle salad, noodle salad recipe, tiger beer,

© Copyright 2013 Leah DeCesare



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2 Responses to KOTO – Know One Teach One

  1. Sounds like a fascinating program. I love charitable organizations that teach recipients a skill in order to be self-sufficient. So much better than just throwing money at them and expecting them to improve without education.

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