This is the perfect opportunity to have a delicious meal and do something good at the same time. KOTO stands for ‘Know One Teach One’ and is a not-for-profit restaurant where street children have the opportunity to learn a skill. The café is open all day, and there are also the Temple Bar and the Bamboo Terrace where you can just have a drink, Vietnamese or European snack, or a full meal.
Jimmy Pham and The Development of the KOTO project
Jimmy Pham was born in Vietnam in 1972 and migrated to Australia as a young child with his mother and siblings where he grew up in Sydney. He was interested in tourism, travel and entered school to learn hospitality. In 1996 he went back to Vietnam for the first time, on a temporary assignment as a tour operator.
One night, Jimmy Pham went for a walk in Saigon and met some street kids. He noticed how dirty they were. They had blisters on their legs. He asked them, ‘where do you shower?’ And they said, ‘we shower next to an open sewer’. The next day, he organized for that small group to have a proper wash, and by the time he left Vietnam two weeks later word of his generosity had spread and he was paying for 60 young people to wash and eat.
The concept of KOTO began when Jimmy asked some of these young people what they wanted out of life. They simply replied, ‘We need skills so we can find stable jobs’. He then decided that he wanted to come back to Vietnam on a long-term basis and make a difference. He didn’t know how he was going to do it. He just knew at that time that he wanted to help.
In the 90’s there were thousands of street kids in Vietnam selling postcards, beads and bubblegum on the streets to tourists. They were shining shoes, selling books and papers, hawking cigarette lighters, clamouring for foreign coins, haggling, begging, and skylarking. The bright-eyed, the bruised and the broken. In Vietnamese they were referred to with a term that means ‘the dust of life’. Even in 2011 there are thousands of street and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam.
Jimmy Pham set up Street Voices in 1998, a not for profit association registered Australia. The aim was to support The Project through fundraising, raising the profile and the need to assist Vietnamese street and disadvantaged youth.
In 2007 Street Voices Incorporated was renamed KOTO International Limited a not for profit company Limited by Guarantee. KOTO International is managed by a team of directors. KOTO International processes trainee sponsorships and donations. KI holds fund raising events Australia.
Vision and mission
As a social enterprise that provides positive change to the lives of street and disadvantaged youth, our vision is to be increasingly internationally prominent and successful allowing us to spread our model to more communities. Wherever there is abandonment, neglect and abuse, we will be there.
We believe street and disadvantaged youth should have access to holistic and vocational skill development opportunities, in a nurturing environment, where each family member builds self confidence and is empowered to live a life of dignity and happiness.
We are a family who cares about all others and where big smiles bring the promise of love, compassion and security. We work hard because we believe we can make a difference and because we love our organization for all it represents.