Labor exports: Hard-earned money and desolated villages

Labor export has been a common practice for poverty-stricken provinces of Vietnam for many years, both via legal and irregular gateways. People from Nghe An, Ha Tinh or Quang Binh are willing to leave their young children and elderly parents behind, spending well around VND1 billion (US$43,000) for a slim chance to change the life of their family.
Village people can finally afford decent houses thanks to their family members working abroad (photo taken at Dien Thap Commune, Nghe An Province)
Village people can finally afford decent houses thanks to their family members working abroad (photo taken at Dien Thap Commune, Nghe An Province)

As of the writing of this article, more and more villages in these provinces are seeing nicer, more stable houses being built as a direct result of labor exports, earning them the name “billionaire villages”.

Each year, a total of VND50 billion (about US$2 million) are sent from more than 200 overseas workers to their families in Thanh Hai village, Quang Binh Province.

The village prides itself in having escaped poverty thanks to their family members who are legal int’l residents, mostly in South Korea, said Village Head Le Van Hong. 

In Nhan Trach Commune, Quang Binh Province, there are 1,600 people currently working in South Korea, Japan or Taiwan, with about 150 youngsters setting off each year. Land plots in a coast village of Nhan Trach can sell for about VND1 billion (US$43,000) each.

Big money comes with a huge price, though, as the majority of these young people are leaving their small children in the care of their elderly parents. 

A little further North, Nghi Xuan District’s 2,700 overseas workers would provide about US$600 - 700 per month for over 12,000 people back at home, making their per capita income about VND38.2 million (US$1,649) at the end of 2018.

Another commune in Ha Tinh Province, Thien Loc Commune, which previously relied mainly on agricultural activities, has been enjoying long concrete paved roads and brick houses thanks to labor exports. It is one of the localities with the highest number of overseas workers in Ha Tinh at 1,279 people as of today.

On the flipside, there have been 7 deaths among these workers due to labor accidents in the past 10 years, said Chairman of the Commune’s People’s Committee Dang Anh Tuan. Most of them were subject to irregular migration.

A good number of travelers got deported right after reaching their destination, putting their families in even more debt, added Tuan.

“Some separated couples fell victim to divorces, while others inadvertently forced their children to grow up without one or both parents. There are workers who were involved in cultivating cannabis and eventually got addicted”, he recounted.

Labor exports: Hard-earned money and desolated villages ảnh 1

Le Thanh Dinh and his wife (Nghe An Province) have to take care of their grandchild in absence of the parents 

Ha Tinh found agencies performing illegal labor exports services

Several companies and individuals that do not have licenses to practice migration services are operating under the guise of labor exports advisors, among which many are actual scammers, the Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs in Ha Tinh province discovered on October 28. These cases are being looked into at the moment.

According to them, Ha Tinh had 72,236 people working abroad under definite-term contracts from 2009 to 2019, an average of 6,600 people per year. The annual average income of overseas workers reached nearly VND7,000 billion (about US$302,000), of which over VND4,500 billion (about US$194,000) is sent back to Vietnam each year.