I MOVED!! TO A BRAND NEW CITY!
after getting married, this must be the most insane decision i have made in 2016.
After 6 years in Singapore, when I moved back to Vietnam last year and bought my tiny studio apartment, i have sworn to never leave again. My entire life, always living in boxes, stray-stay, as i like to call it, and when i finally used up all of my savings to get my own place, i finally found some peace in my mind when i have a place to truly call home.
But then everything changed. I got married. I got too comfortable. Hanoi was getting too safe, and i couldn’t find inspiration anymore. So we moved, a week after we decided, with our cats and rats and tons and tons of clothes lol.
Gave all the money to my sister, who needs a house more than me for her and my niece. My mom - who i never mention for a reason, took all of it and do who knows what with it. It has been weeks and I still can not recover from the fact that my entire life savings is gone.
But oh well, i want to get out of my comfort zone and here it is, the uncomfortable side of life. It has not been a good ride, I have moved to Ho Chi Minh city for 3 weeks and everyday is a hell of a struggle. But you know who’s gonna work hard to give her cats and rats a better life?? ME!!
I shall write more, I shall take more photos, there shall be more tears and boxes, and it all shall be worth it.
The two set up housekeeping in a home on a noisy street in town, and the soldier used to come by in the afternoons and take the woman, Nguyen Thi Canh, for rides in his Jeep. After a while a baby boy arrived.
It was a cozy setup, a neighbor who is still alive recalls, but it didn’t last long. Eventually Canh took the baby and a bundle of the soldier’s cash and got back together with her ex-husband, with whom she had already had seven children. The family eventually left Saigon and went back to their hometown in the Mekong Delta.
After I took the photo, my translator sat next to her on the bench, while I sat on the ground. The woman motioned for me to sit on the bench. Since there was barely any room, I declined. But she insisted. I declined again. But she insisted again, so I finally squeezed into the empty spot. Then she groaned and said: “He’s got a huge ass.”
The Girl Effect was born amid an urgent PR crisis two decades ago, when Vietnamese Nike workers spoke to labor advocates and journalists about being routinely beaten by their managers; dozens of other news stories exposed negative working conditions in overseas factories making products for Nike. Under public pressure to take responsibility for its supply chain, then-CEO Phil Knight admitted that the company had become “synonymous with slave wages, forced overtime, and arbitrary abuse.” He promised to not only transform Nike’s supply chain but to lead the entire apparel industry into a new era of corporate social responsibility. Soon after, Nike employed two women, Maria Eitel and Hannah Jones, to overhaul the company’s image. Both had extensive media experience; Eitel had served as a media adviser to President George H.W. Bush.
The for-profit company has invested millions in the Nike Foundation and its Girl Effect campaign, led by Eitel, who is president and CEO of the Nike Foundation. The campaign had early seed funding from the NoVo Foundation as well as support from the United Nations Foundation and the United Kingdom. (The Girl Effect was spun off into its own organization in 2015, with Eitel as its chairwoman.) Today Nike’s profits, brand value, and corporate responsibility image are all in top-form.
But what effect has the Girl Effect had on Nike’s own supply chain? Of the estimated million-plus workers who cut, stitch, sew, glue, label, and package shoes, sports fashion, and collegiate apparel for Nike contractors (including for Nike brands Converse and Hurley), almost a third work in Vietnam, the single largest host to Nike manufacturing in the world. With at least 75 contracted factories there, Nike is a major driver of employment in the country. About 80 percent of workers in Nike’s Vietnam factories are women and girls; some may be as young as 16, the minimum age for certain factory work in Nike’s Code of Conduct. Many migrate from poor rural areas in the central and northern provinces of the country to industrial parks in the south. According to Nike, they are often “the first women in their family to work in the formal economy.”
Over four weeks in January, I interviewed 18 women, 23 to 55 years old, who currently or recently produced, labeled, and packaged Nike shoes and apparel at five different factories within 30 miles of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. These plants are listed on Nike’s site as employing more than 61,000 female line workers, and Nike sends inspectors to the sites to monitor working conditions and compliance with the company’s Code of Conduct. Nike wouldn’t put me in touch with employees of its contract factories, so I contacted an underground workers’ rights organization and an independent researcher who specializes in women’s issues. The women they introduced me to live in squalid conditions near the factories, where they mostly share single rooms with two to five family members. Joined by translators, I visited their homes, met some of their daughters and families, listened to their stories, and collected documents including company policies and pay slips.
Although they may be unfamiliar with Nike’s global campaign, the goal of the women I spoke with sounds a lot like the Girl Effect—to raise themselves and their families out of poverty. Each of the 18 women, however, reported pay so low they could not even meet the basic needs of their families, let alone save money or contribute to their communities. (Four had been laid off less than three months before we met, after their factory building burnt down; they spoke only about their wages and child care, cautious of giving critiques that might jeopardize their chances of getting hired back.) They told me that they would need to earn between three to four times their current salaries to offer their families a basic level of economic security. The average monthly wage for manufacturing in Vietnam was $200 in 2015. Their stories highlighted something the Girl Effect campaign is silent about: the importance of a living wage.
I also found evidence that Nike’s contract factories breach basic Girl Effect tenets of freedom from exploitation and harassment, security, safety, and Nike’s own Code of Conduct, put in place to prohibit, among other things, harassment, abuse, and nonconsensual overtime. Women who worked in different factories told remarkably similar stories of being subjected to arbitrary punishments—such as financial penalties and threats of dismissal for making manufacturing mistakes, not working quickly enough, or coming in late, along with intimidation and ongoing humiliation by managers.
Finally, although the Girl Effect champions the importance of women protecting and empowering their own children, the women in Vietnam explained to me why their low wages make it impossible for them to ensure their children’s safety. The 10 mothers with young children whom I spoke with either send their children to unlicensed child care services they consider underqualified or dangerous or they leave them with family in home villages they are able to visit only once or twice a year.
Nike’s talk of empowerment notwithstanding, these women feel helpless in the face of these conditions. “We have voices,” a 32-year-old pregnant worker, who receives a small hazardous work bonus for her work in the gluing section and fears the effects of chemicals on her unborn baby, told me. “But we can’t really speak.”
“He found me and my son on New Year’s Eve, sleeping in a construction site. We’d been forced out on the street after my husband abandoned us. He said: ‘You shouldn’t live like this, come home with me.’ He let us live with him for months, and he never asked me for a thing, and he very good to my son. Sometimes I’d come home and find him carrying my son on his shoulders. After a few months, we developed romantic feelings for each other.”
At Home in the Crowd with Vietnamese Photojournalist @phamhaduylinh
To see more of Linh’s photographs, follow @phamhaduylinh on Instagram.
“I love complex photos, and that’s why I choose to work in crowded places,” says Linh Pham (@phamhaduylinh), a 24-year-old Vietnamese photojournalist. “And at the same time, I always try to find something that stands out from the crowd — a sunbeam, or someone doing something different or wearing a different color than everyone else. Photography, for me, is a type of exploration.”
One element of that exploration, Linh says, is revisiting the places he has photographed by re-examining the pictures themselves. “When you’re in a crowd you can’t see everything at once, but afterward, if you’ve taken some good pictures, you can take the time to go back and look at the details and you can see what was really going on at that moment.”
After studying graphic design in college, Linh spent two years photographing in places as diverse as Cuba, Texas, Guatemala and Switzerland. But he’s glad to be home in Vietnam. “I liked traveling and taking photos, but right now, I don’t really belong in those places,” he says. “It was important for me to come back and do something here.”
“During my first two years of college, I studied with people who didn’t have very high goals. I was the hardest worker in the group and everyone was always asking me for help, so I felt like I was ahead of where I should be. During my last two years, I moved into more advanced classes, and suddenly I was studying with people who had higher goals than me. They pressured me to study much harder, but it was too late. When I graduated, I missed having an ‘excellent’ rating by .04 points.”
“Một chị bán hàng tặng tôi chiếc nón này vì thấy tôi mặc áo in hình Bác Hồ. Tôi sẽ đem chiếc nón này về Úc, ở đó mọi người ai cũng yêu quý Chủ tịch Hồ Chí Minh và chắc chắn là ở thành phố của tôi chưa ai thấy chiếc nón này đâu.”
“A shop owner gave me this hat when she saw me in this Ho Chi Minh shirt. I’m taking it home with me in Australia. Australian people love Ho Chi Minh and I’m sure no one from my city has seen the hat in person before.”
Random thoughts about Lee Seung Hoon's letter in ep 4
Well, this is the first time that I have written something about Lee Seung Hoon :P It is inspired from my talk with a younger friend who is Hoonie-biased so much ^^.
For me, the highlights of Hoonie in ep 4 WINNERTV would be 2 scenes: his answer in a quiz contest and his letter to Jin Woo.
1. Quiz contest
What impressed me most in the episode is Hoonie’s answer to the question “What’s the capital of Vietnam?”. He firstly replied “Ho Chi Minh”, which made me surprised and laugh. Though his answer is not correct, he may have read some information about Vietnam. For your information, Ho Chi Minh city is the largest city in Vietnam but it is not the capital city ^^. Then, he replied at the second attempt, “Hanoi” - which is the correct key. Unfortunately, Yoonie took advantage of Hoonie’s mistake and gained the point :)) <Hoonie forgot to notify his turn to answer and Yoonie got it =))>
2. Seung Hoon’s letter to Jin Woo
As I stated previously in several entries, I have not seen obvious interactions between two oldest hyungs in WIN show (Maybe it’s due to the edition power & intention of PD in WIN show ^^). Now in WINNERTV, this episode met my expectation to some extent when Hoonie and Jin Woo not only joined together to find their letters but also Hoonie wrote to Jin Woo. So, I will turn my attention more to the letter. ^^
In WIN show, I did not notice talks between these boys, but I suppose behind the scenes, they exchanged words with each other. Coz, they have spent time together practicing and having fun at the breaks - which could help them to understand team-mates more.
The opening letter is so cool with “Hello Pretty Boy” - it looked like a love confession letter by fangirls *LOL*. In the letter, Hoonie expressed his impression about Jin Woo - which is so sincere and sweet at the same time. For me, both Jin Woo and Hoonie have impressed me with their innocence and rustic charm. Even though Jin Woo comes from a small island, till now in another place, he has not lost his inborn quality: being so pure. The case is also applied for Hoonie: being criticized for his countrified accent does not make him lose himself ^^
When I read his story of leaving his hometown, going to Seoul in order to pursue his dream, I was touched. Because it is not easy to be independent at such young age, struggling with yourself in order to not forget your focus in a such harsh and new environment. Therefore, when Hoonie mentioned Jin Woo’s endurance throughout stress, I suddenly think about their similarity. Jin Woo also left his small island to meet his dream in Seoul, spending his youth in the practice room with persistent hope. Both of them are at 20s - which is the most beautiful time of our life. If they did not choose this way, they could go to university publicly, to meet classmates openly, to fall in love with a girl, to enjoy their time… However, they made up their mind to put their feet on this thorny path…
<Seung Hoon got nose-bleeding while he was at Kpopstar due to pressure>
In spite of what Hoonie experienced on the way to chase his dream of music, he has expressed his care towards people. Because he experienced difficulties first hand, he felt empathetic with them. In this case, he showed his encouragement to Jin Woo - his hyung has gone through a lot of stress (and criticism in WIN show).
Thank you, Hoonie, for such a touching letter. I hope both you and Jin Woo always keep your bright sides as usual, despite challenges ahead. Then, 2014 will be the time for you and WINNER members to shine :) Let’s achieve Rookie Awards. Fighting ~