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The formidable Hai.

Recently, the KOTO Alumni Committee held an Inspiring Story & Photo Contest and the first place winner was Hai from Class 31.

Hai shared with us his story of overcoming hardship, achieving success and that with hard work, perseverance and a helping hand in life from the vocational education that KOTO provided, he is now the proud owner of a cafe he’s aptly named, Sunhouse Coffee.

This is why we're here. This is why it's so important KOTO survives COVID-19 and constant lockdowns.

Read on for Hai’s inspiring story:

“I’d like to share with you my story of how I opened a small cake shop in my hometown. Before I found my independence at KOTO, there weren't many opportunities for me. I used to feel like I was born unlucky. I wasn’t allowed to go to school, even though it was my dream. I am lucky though to have friends who are like me with disabilities as they are also not allowed to go to school. We often spend time together helping out each other's parents or running around in a field catching crickets and flying kites.

One day, we were able to go to the city to see all the big things and we came across a beautiful cake shop. All the items looked so luxurious! We went back home and saved all our money for months, pooling it together so we could buy one cake.

We were so excited when we had enough that we ran out excitedly to buy it. When we entered the store, we were treated like beggars. We are very poor so our clothes aren’t as fancy as some people. We didn’t even get a chance to explain that we were here and had money for the cake. The shop owners just chased us away. I felt so embarrassed and sad and I made a promise to myself that I would one day open up my own cake shop that accepted everybody no matter how they look or what background they come from. I would be proud to serve everyone who comes into my store.

Today, I have fulfilled my promise to myself. My cafe may not be as big as other cafes, but I feel so happy because it is my effort and passion that got me here. My cafe is in my hometown and is called ‘Sunhouse Coffee’. I think it's good that I am here so children also have access to nice things just like in the big city.

I chose the name Sunhouse because I hope everyone who visits my store feels warm and welcomed. That’s the end of my story, thank you for reading and for letting me share it.”

We’re all so proud of Hai and everything he is doing to empower others. Truly an inspirational man.

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