Photo for illustration.
Nobody can think that Ms. Du, 50, is a charwoman, because she dresses smartly, with red painted toenails and fingernails. But Du is a charlady for a foreign family in Nghi Tam, Hanoi.
If charwomen usually hide their job or feel a complex about their job but Ms. Du is very proud of her job – a charlady for foreigners.
“They are very talented. They earn hundreds of million dong a month. Their parents abroad are also very rich. Sometimes they sent hundreds of million dong to Vietnam as gifts,” Ms. Du says.
The woman says that she was a farmer who was busy with farm work the year round. But now she owns a spacious apartment in Long Bien district, Hanoi. She also works only eight hours like civil servants.
“Let’s see my toenails carefully. Some toenails are still rotten because I used to paddle in mud to transplant rice. I was in extreme misery. I worked very hard but I could not learn enough money to cover my children’s school fees,” Ms. Du recalled.
She says that since she worked as a charlady for a foreign family, around ten years ago, she began going to hair salon to take care of her hairs and fingernails.
“I cook for them so the Vietnamese wife asked me to keep my hands clean all the time. She was the first who took me to a beauty salon to paint my fingernails. I did not know about it because I was a farmer! But I’m familiar with it now,” Ms. Du says.
The charwoman says that she earns $400 per month. “I know some students who work for two foreign families at once and they are paid $800 per month, not including bonus,” she adds.
Sharing about the job that helps change her life, Ms. Du says: “Foreigners are very picky in food and hygiene but they are open. Living with rich people, I knew how miserable I experienced before.”
Thanks to high income and the assistance from her employer, Ms. Du can take care of her family.
“Sometimes I asked myself--if I was still a farmer, when would I have had my today’s life?” she says.
To seek a good job like Ms. Du, many charwomen who are over 50 years old still try to learn English.
“Charwomen who cannot talk with my kids, I pay them up to $300/month. With that salary, they have to clean up the house and cook for us. Those who can talk to and play with my kids, I will pay them at least $400/month,” says Anna Nguyen in Long Bien district, Hanoi.
Seeing the gap and sometimes the “discrimination” of foreign employers with charwomen who can speak and who cannot speak English, many charwomen are more determined to learn English.
Ms. Tam, 20, a charlady near Dong Xuan market, Hanoi, says: “My friend who is a student at a foreign language training university earns VND2-3 million per month for playing with a boy named Tom for 3-4 hours a day.”
Tam says that the employer usually presents this student clothes and cosmetics after they return home from business or vacation trips.
“I witnessed once time when she translated for her employer at the market, the employer gave her VND500,000 ($25) as bonus. During the summer, she worked for two families to earn VND5-6 million a month”.
“English is very important! I don’t need to speak it fluently but at least I need to understand what they say. I and another middle-aged woman are studying English communications at a foreign language. I’m willing to pay two months of salary as school fee,” Tam says.
Meanwhile, Ms. Loc, 56, from Long Bien district, laments: “I tried to learn how to say hello and goodbye in English but I’m old now. I cannot remember any word. I’m willing to receive a little lower salary. It is a headache for me to learn how to use modern devices in this house!” VTCN