Education is luxury Hà Nội’s poor migrant children cannot afford

January, 18/2019 - 07:00

In a makeshift hamlet in Hà Nội, many children go without an education because their parents are too poor, reported Giáo Dục Việt Nam (Việt Nam Education) Newspaper.

The hamlet under Long Biên Bridge. – Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – In a makeshift hamlet in Hà Nội, many children go without an education because their parents are too poor, reported Giáo Dục Việt Nam (Việt Nam Education) Newspaper.

The slum is called xóm gầm cầu (under-the-bridge hamlet) because it is located under the famous Long Biên Bridge in Hà Nội’s Phúc Xa Commune, Long Biên District.

The hamlet is home to thousands of people who have migrated from many different areas of the country. It is often muddy and stinky, littered with plastic bags, wrapping papers and plastic boxes.

Most of the people who live there are quite poor. They work as porters in the nearby Long Biên Wholesale Market, or else as scrap collectors or any hard job they can find in the city, the paper said.

Although they work very hard, they rarely earn enough to cover their living expenses.

The adults work from dawn to dusk so they are not able to watch their children.

Most of the kids in the hamlet do not go to school, or have dropped out because their parents could not afford tuition fees, reported the paper.

In most of the hamlet’s families, the oldest children work to supplement their parents’ modest incomes while the younger children stay home and act as babysitters.

According to Lê Thị Hoa, a resident of the hamlet for more than 15 years, “most of the children in the hamlet do not go to school because their families are too poor.”

“Their parents are migrants from the countryside,” Hoa said. “They had to bring the children along because no one at home could take care of them.”

Many children had to drop out of school in their hometowns to follow their parents to Hà Nội for work.

“I feel bad for the children, but it’s life,” she said.

For the poor migrants, tuition fees in Hà Nội are very high. Besides, they cannot make time bring their children to school in the mornings and pick them up ever afternoon.

“Most of the people here are not educated,” the woman said sadly. “They work as hired labourers year round. How can children grow up well in this environment?”

Nguyễn Thị Thảo chases her dream in the shabby room she shares with her mother. – Photo


There are many people stuck living under Long Biên Bridge, the paper reported.

One such case is of Nguyễn Thị Động and her daughter Nguyễn Thị Thảo.

The mother and daughter live in a tiny, damp and dark room. The room is unfurnished except for a bed.

Động and her daughter migrated to Hà Nội years ago after her husband left her. In her hometown she had no job and no relatives, so she decided to earn money in the city.

Every night, the mother works as a porter in the market. She earns about VND70,000 – 100,000 (US$3-4.30) per night.

The income is so modest that their daily meals only consist of rice and vegetables, the paper said.

Thảo is Động’s second daughter and she has inborn heart disease. She did not go to school because she was very weak and regularly suffered heart pains.

“I did not have money for my daughter’s treatment or operation,” Động said.

“Whenever she was in pain, I bought some medicines for her,” the mother said. “The thing I was most afraid was that if I died no one would be there to take care of her.”

One of her regrets was not letting her daughter to go to school. Thảo had to drop out in the third grade.

“I really felt regret because I could not let her to go to school,” she said. “I am illiterate so my life has been disadvantaged. Now, my daughter is on my path.”

Despite not going to school, Thảo loves literature.

Every day she stayed at home alone and wrote essays, poems and short stories.

Literature was a light of her difficult life.

Her burning desire and dream were to continue studying and become a writer and poet one day.

“Because of my health, I could not go to school like other children,” Thảo said. “I was so sad.”

Recently, Thảo returned to the classroom as part of a charity class in Phúc Xá Commune.

“In the class, I met many children who were as poor as I am,” she said. “This was the motivation for me to have faith in life.”

“I am determined to study and pursue my dream of being a writer,” she said. — VNS