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MAI Vietnamese Handicrafts

MAI Vietnamese Handicrafts

Mai Handicrafts is a non-profit organization founded by social workers concerned about the plight of street children in Ho Chi Minh City. At the time, schooling was only available to those who held legal papers and could afford the tuition fees. Street children, meeting neither of these requirements, were excluded. Mai Handicrafts gave work to youth and provided them with informal literacy classes. Now that schooling is free for all children in Vietnam, Mai Handicrafts provides work for the marginalized, including women and ethnic minority groups. Artisans receive social and health care insurance and may apply for scholarship funds. The organization funds community development activities including clean water projects, vocational training, equipment purchases and teacher wage subsidies. Mai has also responded to environmental concerns by collecting waste material for recycling – some of which is utilized in the creation of new products – and hiring young women to work after school cutting and forming boxes rather than buying ready-made packaging materials.