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Resettlement means misery and debt for boat people
River beautification scheme leaves boat people vulnerableA former boat man selling clothes on a street in Hue
- ucanews.com reporter, Hue
- April 26, 2012
They now find themselves in cramped, inadequate conditions, with most of them facing spiraling debt.
Le Van Trangâ€™s story is typical. â€śOn our boat, we sold fish and poultry for a living,â€ť he says. â€śOur three children went to school and played on the river banks.
â€śNow we live in a flat with one window and one door. It is falling apart. The roof leaks and cracks are appearing in the walls.
â€śTwo of the children had to drop out of school. They work at a local market to support the family, earning 20,000 dong (US $1) each a day.
â€śIâ€™ve hired a tricycle and now carry goods for a living. Most of my neighbors work as motorbike taxi drivers, street vendors, porters or bricklayers. Daily, we earn around 30,000 to 50,000 dong.
â€śLife is much worse now than it was in the past.â€ť
Many of these families have lived on the Huong for generations. The Â resettlement took place to curb pollution on the river and make way for a beautification project, which local authorities hope will attract more tourists.
But now the authorities concede that they have not done enough to equip the families for life on land; there are few jobs, no job creation schemes and the skills training programs that do exist are not well tailored to the boat peoplesâ€™ needs.
â€śMy son and I are illiterate so we canâ€™t go on the vocational courses,â€ť says Dao Thi Man, a 40-year-old widow. Instead, she works as a restaurant dishwasher, making 50,000 dong a day for a 14-hour shift.
Her 16-year-old son catches fish and her daughter, 15, has dropped out of school to make a living from collecting waste off the streets. Between them, they manage to keep the two youngest children in school, but it is growing increasingly difficult.
â€śWeâ€™ve been living from hand to mouth since we were moved last August,â€ť says Man. â€śWe owe a local bank five million dong and we bought all our kitchen equipment and our other basic furniture on credit. Weâ€™re facing a mountain of debt.â€ť