Summer vacation is the time for children to relax and enjoy themselves, but for those who grew up in Binh Minh Commune in the Thang Binh District of the central province of Quang Nam, it’s time to work hard. The reason? They want to have money to buy books and clothes for the new school year.
|Nguyen Van Thien has worked at the local fish processing workshop for three summers to get more money for schooling. — Photo nongnghiep.vn
Tran Thi Kim Van, 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 Nong nghiep (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.
Nguyen Van Thien, 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 VND80,000 (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, Thien 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," Thien 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 Nghe An, Thien’s father came to Quang Nam Province to work on fishing boats. After getting married, the couple settled in Binh Minh Commune. As the breadwinner of the family, whenever he went to sea, Thien’s father often spent a full month at sea before returning home.
|Many children from Binh Minh Commune in the Thang Binh District of the central province of Quang Nam work at a local workshop to support their families during summer vacations. — Photo nongnghiep.vn
Tran Thi Minh, Thien’s mother, said while she was pregnant with Thien, 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 Binh 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 Thien’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 VND100,000 ($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.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Luc, a 10th grader, was in the same situation as Thien.
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, Luc joined her mother to work at the workshop in the summer to earn more money to support her study.
Thirteen-year-old, Vo Hong Ha, 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, Ha said.
Nguyen Van Tam, chairman of Binh 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, Tam said.
He said he hoped that a miracle would soon come to the children to help them fulfill their desire for learning.VNS