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61-year-old Vietnamese woman drives motorbike taxi to provide for granddaughter

61-year-old Vietnamese woman drives motorbike taxi to provide for granddaughter

Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 16:04 GMT+7

A 61-year-old woman in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long has been driving a motorbike taxi for a living for two years, a job hitherto done predominantly by men in the Southeast Asian country.

Riding a ‘xe om,’ or motorbike taxi, is a common job in Vietnam, a country where nearly every household owns at least one motorbike, according to data by the General Statistics Office of Vietnam.

Motorbike taxi drivers in the nation are mostly men due to the harsh working conditions of the occupation which entails staying out in the open for long hours.

For the past two years, however, those living on Nguyen Hue Street in Ward 2, Vinh Long City, the capital of Vinh Long Province, have seen Nguyen Ngoc Tuyet, 61, offering rides to earn some extra money to put food on the table for herself and her granddaughter.

Tuyet’s daily routines include unfailingly taking her ten-year-old granddaughter Nguyen Ngoc Thu Thao to school, driving some ‘regular customers’ in the neighborhood to work, and waiting for phone calls from people who need a ride.

She has been living with Thao since her birth, and has raised the girl since she was two, when her parents got divorced and found themselves new homes.

Tuyet said when she first began bringing up Thao on her own, she had to send the granddaughter to a relative during the day while she herself opened a little porridge stand on the street to make a living.

However, the porridge load became heavier as Tuyet aged, so when one of her younger siblings gave her an old motorbike, she gave up selling porridge and took up the job of a motorbike taxi driver.

Tuyet’s new job was not a piece of cake for an old woman, as people were reluctant to hop on her motorbike for fear that her driving skills might be unsafe.

“They’re concerned that I’m a female driver, an old one,” Tuyet honestly admitted.

One of her regular customers is Le Thi Ly, chairwoman of Ward 2 Patronage Association for Poor Patients and Handicapped Children, who hails Tuyet’s ‘motorbike cab’ every day to work for VND20,000 (US$0.90) a day.

She chooses to ride with Tuyet because she wants to help the grandma and grandchild in some way, adding that many neighbors also do the same, sometimes they even pay the woman higher than usual or give her rice and food, Ly said.

“I’m trying to get her household officially acknowledged as a poor one so that she can get access to extra financial assistance from the government. It’s lucky that she still has kind-hearted neighbors who are willing to lend a hand in difficult times,” Ly said.

Over the course of two years working as a motorbike taxi driver, Tuyet has had quite a lot of ‘experience’ in engaging in accidents, having already got involved in two crashes since February.

Ly confessed, however, that what she is worried about most are not accidents, but that one day she would become too weak to do the job and would no longer be able to provide for her granddaughter.

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