Viet Nam News
QUẢNG NAM — Summer vacation is the time for children to relax and enjoy themselves, but for those who grew up in Bình Minh Commune in the Thăng Bình District of the central province of Quảng Nam, it’s time to work hard. The reason? They want to have money to buy books and clothes for the new school year.
Trần Thị Kim Vân, owner of a fish processing workshop, said many children wanted to get summer jobs at his business as a way to earn some money to support their studies.
"I could not reject them because they all came from families with financial difficulties," she told the Nông nghiệp (Agriculture) newspaper.
The work did not inquire heavy labour but just patience and skillfulness, she added.
Van said the workshop employs about 50 people. Over 30 of them are students. Many of them have fathers who died during typhoon Chanchu in May 2006.
Nguyễn Văn Thiện, a sixth grader, is an example.
Every day he woke up at 5am. After having breakfast cooked by his mother he pedalled to the workshop. He earned VNĐ80,000 (US$3.5) a day for eight hours of work.
The money he got from working would be given to his mother to buy books and pay school fees when the new school year begins, Thiện said.
He also confided that he was awarded a certificate of merit for excellent student at the end of last school year.
This year was the third summer vacation he has worked at the workshop, he said.
“As the work is familiar to me, I can do more products than other friends," Thiện boasted.
As a young child, the boy grew up in his mother’s care and rarely saw his father.
Hailing from the central province of Nghệ An, Thiện’s father came to Quảng Nam Province to work on fishing boats. After getting married, the couple settled in Bình Minh Commune. As the breadwinner of the family, whenever he went to sea, Thiện’s father often spent a full month at sea before returning home.
Nguyễn Văn Thiện has worked at the local fish processing workshop for three summers to get more money for schooling. — Photo nongnghiep.vn
Trần Thị Minh, Thiện’s mother, said while she was pregnant with Thiện, her husband’s fishing boat got into trouble at sea and he didn’t return home. Later he was found among dozens of fishermen from Bình Minh Commune, who died during the 2006 Chanchu typhoon.
"As we lost the family’s breadwinner, I had to struggle to support the family but we’re still poor," she said, adding that she and Thiện’s sister also worked at the workshop.
"I work at the workshop in the dry season. In the rainy season, I have to find other jobs such as porter at fishing port or worked at the construction site."
"One day without a job means that I don’t have money to feed my children and cover living expense," Minh said.
Minh said she had no choice but work at the workshop with daily payment of about VNĐ100,000 ($4.4).
"I didn’t have proper schooling or skills required to apply for a job at companies," she explained. She added that she could go to the city to work as a babysitter or domestic helper, but then she couldn’t take care of her children.
Nguyễn Thị Thủy Lực, a 10th grader, was in the same situation as Thiện.
Her father died in typhoon Chanchu when she was five years old.
The family’s income depended on Luc’s brother but he was injured in an accident a year ago.
Facing hardship, Lực joined her mother to work at the workshop in the summer to earn more money to support her study.
Thirteen-year-old, Võ Hồng Hà, another student, said: "Having seen my friends of the same age have the chance to relax and visit many interesting places at summer vacation, I felt sad."
But financial difficulties required her to work to help her parents, Hà said.
Nguyễn Văn Tám, chairman of Bình Minh Commune’s Education Promotion Association, said as many as 87 fishermen were missing after the typhoon Chanchu swept through the locality in 2006.
Knowing that many families of missing people were unable to prepare school things for their children, the association has called on donors to help them. But it’s not enough, Tám said.
He said he hoped that a miracle would soon come to the children to help them fulfill their desire for learning. — VNS