October 28, 2021

Two paths of returnees


After returning from the cities, some decided to stay in their homeland, while others moved back to the southern provinces.

Near noon, Mr. Binh put on a raincoat and carried a rake to the beach in Quang Thai (Quang Xuong, Thanh Hoa). Under the umbrella tree in front of the house, Mrs. Gai and his wife sat idle with a pot of mannequin tubers that had not yet opened a shop. “Another day of snacking,” said the 50-year-old woman.

Since the outbreak of the 4th Covid-19 epidemic, the couple has set a goal that every day he has to scrape 3 kg of clams, equivalent to 60,000 VND, she also has to earn that much from the burden of snacks. money to support 3 children of school age. “Every month, my family pays more than one million dong for electricity, water and bank interest. The rest must be pulled to be enough,” she said.

Mrs. Truong Thi Gai is mixing rice paper for sale, noon on October 12 in Quang Thai, Quang Xuong, Thanh Hoa. Photo: Mai Hien

In Quang Thai commune, Mrs. Gai and her husband are among 50% of the households who have to leave the country to make a living. From the late 1990s until now, every year Mr. Binh and Mrs. Gai are separated for 11 months. In 2019, she suffered from spondylolisthesis, had to borrow money for surgery. Two years ago, after several outbreaks of Covid-19, the couple’s work was severely affected, and the family situation became more and more difficult.

At the end of April, the grandparents returned to their hometown to mourn for their brother, then could not return to Binh Duong. Mrs. Gai said that “there is also luck in misfortune”, but with a sick body and no savings, she is sure that it is difficult for the couple to live through the long distance.

More than four months at home, they realized that their children were growing old, especially the youngest son, and needed their parents to be there to teach them. Their age is uncomfortable with the “typhoon” like waiting for this epidemic, so they decided not to return to the city. Grandparents plan to open a grocery store in the countryside, but don’t know how to get capital. “There’s no savings, just debt,” she said.

Gai and his wife were among more than 1.3 million workers returning to their hometown to avoid the epidemic, from July to September 15, according to the General Statistics Office announced on October 12. Of the 930,000 people aged 15 and over who have returned, only about 34% are employed, 38% have lost their jobs, cannot find jobs due to isolation and distance, and the rest have no need to work due to e. afraid of disease.

Among 34% of people fortunate to have a job after repatriation, Vo Thanh Binh, 28 years old, from Nghi Loc, Nghe An, said that in favorable days he can earn 200,000 VND by working as a shipper for a business in Vietnam. district.

Although the income is not high, Binh is still quite satisfied. His wife is working as a worker near his house, his two children are in primary and secondary school. When asked if he would return to the South to work as a hired worker in the future, Binh said “definitely not”.

“Five years away from home is a difficult time I have spent to earn money to support my family, take care of my wife and children. Now I come home to have rice and porridge to eat, but my spirit is comfortable, I have relatives, neighbors rely on,” he said.

Mr. Binh’s family once attracted the attention of the online community when cycling from Dong Nai to his hometown with VND 800,000 as a toll in early July. Binh has only been working for a week now. His mother rented a roadside kiosk to sell goods, while his sister was also looking for a part-time job in the countryside.

Four members of Binh's family cycled from Dong Nai to Nghe An, stopped to declare at Chung My checkpoint (Phuoc Dan town, Ninh Phuoc district, Ninh Thuan province) on July 19.  Photo: Youth Police of Ninh Phuoc district.

Four members of Binh’s family cycled from Dong Nai to Nghe An, stopped to declare at Chung My checkpoint (Phuoc Dan town, Ninh Phuoc district, Ninh Thuan province) on July 19. Photo: Youth Police of Ninh Phuoc District.

Mr. Pham Hoai Nam, Director of the Department of Population and Labor Statistics, said that “it is quite difficult to attract workers back to industrial centers and big cities”. The epidemic prevention and control policies of many provinces and cities are very different and workers cannot predict the stability of these measures.

According to Mr. Pham Truong Son, Vice Chairman of the Southern Non-Profit Network, the labor attraction policy must calculate the problem of “settling down and getting a job” for people from outside the province. Being stuck for many months in a cramped room, below the threshold of survival, plus the fear of disease and money had a profound impact on their decision to return or not.

In order to “settle and settle down”, issues of social security, social insurance, health and education for migrant workers as well as their children are very important. The current life of migrant workers is not only living and working, they must be integrated into the community where they work. “Let’s see them as part of the city,” said Mr. Son.

In parallel with the “reverse migration wave from the city to the countryside”, a few days have also recorded hundreds of people returning to Ho Chi Minh City to work.

In Tam Phu commune, Tam Ky city, Quang Nam province, Nguyen Van Khanh, 31 years old, bid farewell to his wife and children to rent a private car with three other people for 10 million VND to Ho Chi Minh City on the morning of October 8. All four have had two doses of vaccines, in the same situation, cannot find a job in their hometown.

Khanh calculates, working in the city with an income of 8 million VND per month, he can send his wife and children 4 million VND. “At night I can work as a shipper to earn extra money,” he said.

Khanh knows how to drive a car and cut his hair, but his job is difficult in his hometown, so he decided to return to Ho Chi Minh City to work stably and earn a higher income.  Because he was not sure about the epidemic situation, he still left his wife and children at home.  Photo: Character provided

Mr. Nguyen Van Khanh in the car about to return to Ho Chi Minh City to work, on the morning of October 8. Photo: Characters provided

To come to this choice, he spent two days and nights “brainstorming”. Khanh said, in 2013, he left his hometown and moved to Ho Chi Minh City to work as a driver, then married his wife as a hairdresser. When the epidemic broke out, Khanh and his wife were unemployed for several months. Because Khanh’s pregnant wife was about to give birth, they were picked up by the government by plane.

In parallel with welcoming workers, the People’s Committee of Quang Nam province advocated creating jobs for 4,500 workers to return to their hometown to avoid the epidemic. According to this policy, Khanh registered to work as a driver, but the epidemic made the profession still sluggish. “I have a desire to apply for a job as a driver in industrial parks and companies in Quang Nam, but there is no place to hire, and taxi drivers do not have a high income,” Khanh shared. Khanh was unemployed for two months and returned to his hometown.

In early October, Ho Chi Minh City ended the distance, and the business where Khanh worked before announced that it was back to work. Khanh decided to go so that his wife, 5-year-old daughter and soon-to-be second child could be in peace at home.

The night before the departure, Khanh’s wife encouraged her husband to rest assured. With 4 million dong sent by her husband every month, she can still take care of 1.7 million dong for her daughter’s education, baby’s diapers and food. “In the countryside, my parents provide rice and vegetables, so I save a lot,” Khanh said.

Phan Duong – Dac Thanh – Nguyen Hai

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