Photo credit: DiasporaEngager (www.DiasporaEngager.com).

Nghia Dan, Nghe An Province, November 2022 – The vistas of rice paddy fields surrounding Nghia Dan, Viet Nam paint a picture of quiet calm. The landscape does not reveal how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a wave of returnees who struggle to reintegrate into one of the poorest provinces of the country.

Nguyen Thi Nhan is one of them. She returned home in November 2021, after working for a year in Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), China as a domestic helper. In 2018, she became the sole breadwinner after her husband was injured in a car accident.

She met with a broker with the hope of finding a high-paying job in Macao SAR, China. The broker charged her nearly USD 2,000 in recruitment fees and other costs to land a job. For Nhan, this was more than a full year’s income – Viet Nam’s minimum wage is less than USD 170 per month.

The 56-year-old borrowed money from her relatives to secure a job. She dreamed of making enough money to pay off the debt and supporting her family.

“My employer in Macao SAR, China treated me nicely and I was able to send some of my monthly income back home. But then, COVID-19 changed everything. I lost my job because the family I worked for could not return to Macao SAR, China due to its border closure,” Nhan recalled.

Stranded without a job or any means to return home, Nhan was forced to rely on food relief provided by local organizations. She stayed in a dormitory packed with other unemployed migrant workers for months, before making her way home.

Nhan’s story is replicated by many other migrant worker returnees in Nghia Dan province whose livelihoods have been impacted by COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, the province has seen 13,800 migrant workers return from overseas due to job loss, restrictions of movement, lack of access to health care, protracted isolation and limited employment opportunities in their communities of origin. 

Source of original article: International Organization for Migration (storyteller.iom.int).
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