Covid emergency fund for poor families in Vietnam
Julia Levivier, Vietnam Director of Planète Enfants & Développement, explains the financial crisis in which many families, like Mrs. Dung, are plunged after a very strict confinement in Vietnam in 2021 and the solutions put in place for them to get out of the water.
What did the most vulnerable families experience during the summer 2021 lockdown?
For 3 months, almost all the inhabitants of Ho Chi Minh City were not allowed to leave their homes. Most of the stores, restaurants, stores, businesses were closed; and almost all our beneficiaries were left without jobs and without income.
Only those who could be accommodated in their businesses were able to continue working. But many of the families we support have small independent jobs as street vendors selling food and drinks, clothes or lottery tickets, hourly housekeepers, house painters, porters, cab drivers, ...
Some families have borrowed money from relatives or friends, but also from dishonest and dangerous individuals who charge obscene interest rates.
When the containment was lifted in early October, some people resumed work as normal, while others found themselves unemployed. Their companies went bankrupt or reduced their staff. Many mothers have to stay at home to take care of their children because kindergartens, pre-schools and elementary school are still closed and they don't have enough money to send them to home day care. Some families have no choice but to leave the children at home alone.
Many households still have rent debts, not to mention the prices of daily expenses such as water or electricity, which have increased significantly.
Can you tell us the story of one of these families?
I think of Mrs. Dung, a worker in a garment factory. After three years of unemployment due to the confinement, she was fired. In divorce proceedings, she found herself alone, without income, with her two children, the youngest of whom is 3 years old, her brother's three children and her mother.
During the lockdown, she had no choice but to delay paying her electricity and water bills, have some debts to buy food, and receive food distributions. As soon as the government lifted the lockdown, she worked more than 16 hours a day for a salary of about 300€/month. Her mother, who is over 70 years old and disabled by a life-threatening accident, takes care of the five children during the day until school resumes. These courageous women are overwhelming and command respect.
What is in place to help Ms. Dung and these families in need?
Thanks to our donors, we distributed emergency food packages to 286 families between July and November. Then we created an emergency fund with the support of the Fondation Abbé Pierre.
Out of the 400 parents benefiting from parenting support sessions within the framework of our project, 100 very vulnerable families were selected to receive exceptional financial aid and social follow-up for 6 months.
We have chosen to give priority to supporting the poorest households, migrant families and those excluded from local welfare systems, parents with serious illnesses, and those with young children.
Our social workers started home visits in November to study the situation of the families. Thus, we distributed the first allowances at the end of December. It is about paying 5 500 000 VND (evening about 210€) in 3 times on 2 months.
This support reduces the short-term financial pressure on these families in this social emergency.
It is accompanied by a follow-up by our social workers. After the first visit carried out between November and the end of January to identify the families benefiting from the emergency fund, our team will make two follow-up visits. After February, the 100 families helped in the emergency will enter a family support program over 6 months to guide them in solving their employment, health, financial problems, etc.