HA NOI — Ten stories of women who have migrated from rural to urban settings with the hopes of a better life are narrated in an on-going exhibition at Vietnamese Women's Museum in Ha Noi.
|Long journey: A visitor looks at a model of a woman with a bamboo frame at the entrance of the exhibition. — VNS Photo Viet Thanh
The exhibition entitled Shining Night is an installation of stories representative of the thousands of migrants who earn their living in the city's Long Bien Market.
They undertake exhausting work, mostly at night as porters, cart pullers and goods carriers, under extremely hard conditions. They also face poor living conditions, violence, inequality, and limitations to public services.
The three-part exhibition displays large photo panels taken of the migrants working, shots of their boarding houses and a short video.
In the first part entitled Migration Path, tells the stories of women who have migrated with their children. They migrate for many reasons including gender inequality and pressures to take on the burden of supporting their family.
A woman's story touches every viewer who reads her words. Although having seven brothers, she was always asked to dive into the river to collect weed for feeding the pigs. Once while raining, she could not work and was beaten to the point of breaking her patella.
"I was not taken to hospital but put on a boat to drift away. I was at 13 years old," she said.
The second, Life in the City, illustrates how migrants believe that their new life in the bustling city promises improvements.
A female-goods carrier from Thanh Hoa Province said that she just hoped her children were admitted to a charity class in Phuc Xa Ward where she was boarding. "In that case I can be closer to them and have better conditions to care for them."
The truth of daily life is revealed through these raw stories. The installation takes place in a model of rented room of 6sq.m, exposed brick walls and a hand cart loaded with goods.
In Stand Up, the migrants are shown to be still full of dreams and desires for a brighter future with the support from the community and social organisations such as Light Institute, the Centre for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family and Adolescents (CSAGA), and Tinh Than Network.
"I knew about the exhibition through my work. I really enjoy how it opens my eyes to lots of people's experiences," said Katherine Huk, an exhibition visitor.
"It's moving to see how little money some people make and how difficult it can be. It's hard to see," she said.
The exhibition is set up using the initials of the women's names, according to the Vietnamese Women's Museum director Tran Bich Van.
"Our experts spent a few of weeks staying with the migrants in the areas around Long Bien Market. They went with the migrants to their markets at night, building trust with the hope of sharing their difficulties," Van said.
The exhibition is held by the Light Institute and the Vietnamese Women's Museum with funding from the Ha Noi International Women's Club, the European Union and the Switzerland embassy. — VNS