Standing in front of a small boarding house, we smelled the faint aroma of tamarind and spicy vegetables from the Canh Chua pot. When we stepped straight inside, a young teenage girl struggled with a pot of boiling soup on the stove. The place where we arrived was a small, quite humid room of about the size of 9 square meters in Tan Tuc town, Binh Chanh district of Saigon. The girl with long hair, named N., was quickly preparing lunch for herself and her younger brother. N. hastily turned off the stove and greeted us with a sad face. When broached about her mother, the girl’s eyes filled with tears, and with a choked voice, she said: “My mother worked hard, working day and night to support us. Sometimes, she didn’t even come back home until midnight or until early morning the day after. I remember the dishes my mother used to cook. All of them were delicious. I love the Canh Chua soup which my mother cooked.”
N. continued: “But now that our mother has passed away, we have to cook meals by ourselves if we want to eat. However, our dishes are certainly not as delicious as the taste of the soup cooked by our mother.” Suddenly, N.could not contain her emotions. Two lines of tears rolled down her cheeks. This year, N. turns sixteen years old. Being at the peak of her teenage years, so many psychological and physiological changes had occurred for N..Moreover, a mother could have shared so many things with her little daughter during this tender period. But the COVID-19 pandemic took away her beloved mother this August.
In the past, N.’s family consisted of her father, her mother, her younger brother, and N. herself, who were all living together in the same room that we visited. N.’s mother was a worker at a garment company. The meager salary was not enough to support the entire family, so her mother had to work part-time at a karaoke establishment in the evenings. N.’s father is a bricklayer. However, his job was not stable. When there was construction, people called him to work. N.’s family situation was difficult economically because of that. But it seemed like the adversity of life did not stop there.
Unfortunately, her father has been suffering from chronic insomnia for four years. It has caused his nerves, memory, and health to deteriorate significantly compared to before. Previously, although N.’s family life was difficult, all family members were still together and present. N. and her younger brother still go to school every day. As it is, with her mother deceased, a lot of changes will definitely affect N.’s sisters. Before, N.’s mother was the main economic provider for the family. And now, many difficulties and worries weigh on the shoulders of her father, who is in poor health. N. has not yet fully recovered from grieving the loss of her mother. When N. was talking with us, troubles and disorientation were evident on her face.
As the oldest sister in the family, N, has begun to understand her responsibilities for the coming years. She shared with us that she really wants to continue going to school. The road to university is the only way for her to do well in the role of a daughter and a sister in the future.
After three months, “You Are Not Alone” campaign has supported 100 children orphaned by COVID-19 and will continue to approach and support more of them in the upcoming times. Together with saigonchildren, MSD and CSWD, please let them know that they are not alone at emkhongleloi.com.