A vicious tool at worst and a nationwide burden at best, the residency book finds itself at dawn of an inevitable reform.
When the Vietnamese government announced it would stop controlling its citizens with the archaic residency books, Sister Dang Thi Thu Hanh, who manages a charity center in District 8, Ho Chi Minh City, was among the first to rejoice.
Running the center for over a decade, Sister Hanh understands too well the ordeal these disadvantaged children and their parents, who are migrant workers from the Mekong Delta, have been languishing in.
“Back home, they don't have a house to live in or a job to survive,” Sister Hanh told VnExpress International. “Before they could harvest rice or work for other farmers, but now machines have replaced them. They’d rather be poor in the city than hungry back home.”
But life in the city isn’t easy. As migrants, to get a birth certificate for their children, they can either return to the area where they’re permanently registered, or pay the price of permanent residency in Saigon, which means owning land and building a house.
Neither option seems feasible for these casual workers.
“It usually takes them about two weeks to go back to their hometowns and get a birth certificate for their children,” Hanh explained. “By the time they return, they may no longer have a job in Saigon.”
But even when they risk their jobs and spend hundreds of their hard-earned dollars traveling back and forth, their efforts can be futile.
"If you’ve been gone for over six months it’s like you’re dead to some local authorities,” Hanh explained about the times she's tried to help the parents with the process.
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