by Thu Anh
Migrant students have fun
The HCM City Labour Union's annual Summer Camp for migrants' children opened last weekend at Thanh Da Resort in Binh Thanh District.
More than 300 kids aged between seven and 15 are having a whale of a time at the two-week camp after being nominated by their schools based on their study results.
Ta Hoang Yen Nhi, a fifth grader at Ngo Tat To School in Binh Thanh, said she and her friends are enjoying the delicious food and games organised by volunteers from the union.
"I love games such as kite flying and football and city tours. My friends and I laugh all the time and everywhere."
She complained that normally in summer she and her friends have to stay at home to study and do housework despite struggling hard for almost a year in school.
"We often hear children have the right to take a break and relax in summer," she said wistfully.
But she explained why they do not mind helping out with the family business: "We love our parents."
She wished amusement places would offer interesting programmes at low prices or for free so that poor children too could enjoy them.
Nguyen Thi Thu, chairwoman of the Labour Union, said: "We work hard to organise the Summer Camp every summer for free. What is important is to provide our students with the good things in life, and help them enjoy their childhood."
But many children remain buried in textbooks and homework, and sometimes housework during the year's longest holidays.
Nguyen Thi Minh Nga, former deputy head of the city's College for Pedagogy, said education authorities must take the lead in encouraging teachers and parents to give children more free time to enjoy their summer holidays.
"Please reduce their study load and working hours, and tell our children to relax and do their favourite things."
Nguyen Xuan Thai, a fifth grader at a private school in District 1, said he has been dreaming of being free.
But his hopes have been dashed; he has classes in maths, computer and English.
"We feel very sorry that our son has to study this summer," his mother said.
"But we do not have a choice since we want him to prepare carefully for his future."
It is understandable that parents fret over their children's future, but kids want to know where their summer holidays go.
Sleepless in HCM City
HCM City never sleeps. Night markets have become bigger and busier than ever, especially now, with the summer holiday upon us. They all have at least 30 stalls displaying their goods on nylon sheets placed on pavements.
A market on Hai Ba Trung Street sells accessories like belts and purses. Markets on Hoang Van Thu and Cong Hoa offer men's clothes and shoes. The one on Phan Dang Luu in front of Ba Chieu Market sells everything from fabrics and clothes to shoes and wallets.
The most crowded one is on Nguyen Trai between Nguyen Van Cu and Le Hong Phong. It sells mainly used clothes, shoes, sandals, and accessories and knockoffs of branded clothes.
If low prices are their main selling point, it also helps that many women prefer shopping at night to beat the heat.
Visitors say they come to the night markets also for the relaxed atmosphere since the sellers are not aggressive and do not harass customers.
At a stall in Nguyen Trai, a group of young women were busy choosing T-shirts. One of them said: "We are workers at a garment factory in District 8. With workers' salaries, we can only afford pavement clothes.
"It is very cheap. You need not bargain, only VND40,000 (US$2) for a shirt."
But there are also many customers who seem well off. A man on a fancy motorbike said: "I work all day and only have time to go shopping at night. I think it is a waste if I buy expensive shoes. A fake pair of Nike suits me just fine."
A pair of shoes costs just VND120,000-250,000, a price many people are happy to pay. — VNS