Tuesday, January 21 2020


Nobility of women behind the masks entrances visitor

Update: March, 12/2015 - 09:59
Covered up: Vietnamese people often wear traditional hats, masks and scarves to protect them from the rampant pollution and dust. Photos Rodrigue Leclech

by Rodrigue Leclech

As I travelled by bicycle, by train, by bus and by motor-bike from Paris to Ha Noi, I kept my eyes focused on the people and on life.

I love women for what they are and what they do. An English proverb says: "Men make houses, but women make homes", but from the West to the Orthodox world and the Far East, the place of woman differs.

In Paris, I smiled at beautiful women who were proud of their femininity.

In Mongolia, I was amazed at the dexterity of women breastfeeding a baby in one arm and milking goats or mares with the other.

Busy bees: Vietnamese women work as hard or harder than men. They are often seen on building sites, pushing garbage trolleys or sweeping the streets.

Finally, in Viet Nam, I came across women who can be seen but not recognised, the worker ants of society who always seem to be hidden with a mask and a floppy hat. Once we become aware of this, we see them everywhere, always working so hard.

We see them bowed under the weight of goods or pushing carts filled with rubbish. We see their muscles tense up at construction sites as they carry bricks and debris.

Vietnamese women carry, push, grow, build, clean, dig, plant and harvest. They move around masked. On their heads, a traditional hat, mask and often scarf hides most of their faces to protect them from pollution and dust.

More revealing: At night, the masks sometimes come off - but not often.

When we do manage to see their faces, we notice that they have a look that is precious and noble. They have families to feed and people to support.

I do not really know the place of women in Vietnamese society, but every time I feel a deep respect for these women.

I hope that when the work is done, once their heads are liberated, that smiles light up their faces. — VNS

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