“I’m not unhappy, but sometimes I like to remember times I was a kid, playing in a village with other children, not caring about money, not worrying about anything in this life, just playing and dreaming. There are 7 villages in this area with around 20000 people live here. We are a Muslim ethnic minority. Education for children was easy to get when I was in high school. At that time, it was free for all the minorities. Now, there is a school fee for children. There are only few when you may not pay, if you’re really really poor. Because it’s the government policy, children must go to school.
Children, living in the village, are used to cutting their days in two. If they go to school in the morning, then in the afternoon they have to sell something like lottery tickets, or do something like farming or housework. It’s the way we live here. Some families don’t let their children go to school in advance, because they think, the only thing they need to know is how to count, and that’s enough. They don’t let them continue school because, ‘What for?’
Now, there is higher education, some children can go to the University, and then to many cities to make a living. Poor people have no choice, they have to live here in the village, as luck of education gives you no choice, so they have to stay here. Everything is a question of education, of chances. A lot of people try to live in Saigon, but it’s not easy. Sometimes, people have to live outside the city, not somewhere where they work, because they simply can’t afford it. If you have more, you pay more. I lived in Saigon for 10 years now, but my house is near here, my family too.
I studied Economy at the University. It was hard for me to get higher education, but I really wanted to do lots of things. However, after my studies, I searched everywhere, and I couldn’t find a job, you know why? Because they asked me, ‘How many years of experience do you have?’ When I applied for a job, each time there was this same question, ‘How many years of experience…?’ Usually the answer for me was, ‘Sorry, at least we need 3 years of experience.’ Luckily for me I know English, so I can find some jobs to survive. Finally I studied again, some courses about tourism and everything. To work with tourists is the only alternative for lots of Vietnamese here, even graduates like me. I had some dreams, but I have a wife and kids, so I’m just trying to earn money. It’s the real thing. Maybe one day I will win with my lottery ticket!”