My volunteering empowers Gender Equality, Disability & Social Inclusion (GEDSI), and supports my career development within Tetra Tech

Volunteering: GEDSI inspiration

During the day I work for the Australian Government’s Aus4Skill’s program as a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) coordinator with Tetra Tech International based in Hanoi, Vietnam. 

When I leave the office, I commute to a local NGO, Vietnam and Friends, where I volunteer teaching children with visual impairment. It’s part of my commitment to empower Gender Equality, Disability & Social Inclusion (GEDSI) within Vietnam. 

While it makes for a busy week, volunteering alongside my full-time role has been an immensely rewarding experience, both personally and professionally. It is something I highly recommend to other young professionals working in the international development space. 

Volunteering and the initial GEDSI inspiration  

Aus4Skills is an Aus4Vietnam Investment, managed by Tetra Tech International Development. As my employer, Tetra Tech has been pivotal in expanding my horizons and encouraging me to take personal action to improve Gender Equality, Disability & Social Inclusion (GEDSI) issues within Vietnam.  

Tetra Tech’s commitment, advocacy and education in the GEDSI space is driving important change, improving the lives of marginalised groups within Vietnam and across the broader region. 

Powerful talks from international colleagues, such as former Director of the Inclusion, Justice and Transformation Practice, Navanita Bhattacharya and an array of compelling Aus4Skills’ activities, especially the GEDSI case studies, inspired me to volunteer to help improve the lives of children with visual impairment. 

Direct impact that transforms lives 

A man stands at the front of a classroom with students studying at a wooden table

Khoa teaches his students in the classroom.

I currently have three students, and it’s been fantastic to see their confidence and skills grow as we work together.  

This is hugely important as accessibility for people with disabilities in Vietnam is still under development. As a result, they can feel forgotten about in society. They can be reluctant to socialise and interact within the broader community, and often stay at home, rarely talking to people outside of their families. That’s why initiatives working across GEDSI are so important. 

When I first began teaching my students, they were very shy and uncomfortable contributing to the class. However, as we’ve worked together, with encouragement and learning exercises, their confidence has grown, and their voices have become more empowered. 

They’ve vastly improved their English. Vietnam and Friends recently organised a speaking competition in collaboration with the National Innovation Center in Hanoi. Our class received first prize, which was a fantastic achievement for the students and felt hugely rewarding for me as a teacher.  

Developing complementary skills for my career 

A man sits in a teleconference call

Khoa is able to apply the GEDSI skills he develops volunteering to his role as a MEL coordinator with Tetra Tech

Volunteering has been immensely rewarding for me personally and for my career development. 

In my full-time role as a MEL coordinator, I work as part of the Aus4Skills team, supporting Vietnam to build human resource capacity to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities and achieve long term development. 

My role involves analysing and reporting on project data to help future decision-making on program initiatives. I’ve developed important skills working in MEL as part of a large team, and am passionate about contributing to the large scale, long term change we are carrying out. 

However, my MEL role isn’t involved in the direct implementation of programs. Volunteering has allowed me to create and lead change at an on-ground level and develop relationships at a one-to-one level. 

That’s been a hugely rewarding aspect for me personally, but also has helped develop important GEDSI vocational skills, which I can then transfer to my job with Aus4Skills, and their broader development goals. 

Tetra Tech’s ongoing support

Five colleagues smile against a river backdrop

​ Koha is inspired to improve GEDSI issues in Vietnam, working alongside his Tetra Tech colleagues

Tetra Tech has been fantastic in supporting me with my volunteer work. 

My volunteering is appreciated and respected within the workplace. My manager, Nguyen Thi Kim Hoa, encourages me to apply new ideas and learnings from volunteering, to help inform my GEDSI work in the MEL setting. 

She has also helped balance my schedule, and been flexible with my work hours, enabling me to fully engage with my volunteering commitments. 

Tetra Tech knows my voluntary work is extremely important for the students, but also for my ongoing professional development.  

This in turn brings greater value to my MEL role with Aus4Skills, and the future work I intend to contribute to the region’s ongoing development goals. 

Read more about Tetra Tech’s work in the Gender Equality, Disability & Social Inclusion (GEDSI) space. 

Khoa Lê

MEL Coordinator at Aus4skills (Tetra Tech)

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