The children sat at their desks, bare feet dangling next to power cords, as the instructors unpacked the small, plastic laptops. As they waited, they kept their eyes fixed on the tiny machines that transport them beyond the high walls of the neat but sparse orphanage — if only for a few hours.
“It allows me to know about the outside world,” Thu Thao, a shy and withdrawn girl speaking in a near-whisper, said of the class, which that day taught the youngsters how to search for pictures of Disneyland and Spider-Man on the white, low-cost laptops. The 12-year-old bounced in her seat in anticipation of the instruction.
Such simple online activities are second-nature to young people in Silicon Valley. But for these children, the computer class is a rare treat designed to give them a fighting chance in a nation where being an orphan often leads to a life of poverty. The program, Orphan Impact, which receives support from Santa Clara-based semiconductor giant Intel(INTC), aims to prove that computer training can alter the fate of those clinging to the edges of this pulsating metropolis of more than 9 million people.
“They are the forgotten children of Vietnam,” said Tad Kincaid, founder of the 2-year-old nonprofit.
“We are not just teaching them programming and IT skills,” he said. “We are teaching them 21st-century skills.”
Read the full story by Mercury News Reporter John Boudreau here.