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Vietnamese workers’ life-changing dream turns into nightmare in Angola

Vietnamese workers’ life-changing dream turns into nightmare in Angola

Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 16:06 GMT+7

A large number of poor workers who left their hometown in the north-central Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh for Angola have had their life-changing dreams shattered, with many even losing their lives.

The Ha Tinh Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs has said that more than 7,200 Vietnamese are currently working in the African country.

The agency has previously issued warnings against the country’s unstable labor market, riddled with insecurity and rampant crime against workers.

Vietnamese migrant workers have also been plagued by the unforgiving climate in Angola, leaving them highly prone to malignant malaria. Many have contracted and several have died of the acute disease.

Death and debt

The dream to make a better living in Angola was held by Nguyen Viet Hau, 33, who left his hometown in Vu Quang District more than two years ago, but turned into a nightmare for him and his family when he was shot dead by Angolan robbers on March 5.

Driven by financial difficulties, Hau pawned his assets and took loans to raise the VND100 million (US$4,413) needed for fees and guarantees to make the overseas working trip.

Dissatisfied with poor pay offered by his Vietnamese employer, Hau quit his job and went to work abroad.

Despite the arduous work and dangers of living in the African nation, the man still clung to the hope of paying off his debts.

Following Hau’s murder, with debts still unpaid and their young children craving paternal care, his grieving wife has been forced to borrow more money to have his body repatriated.

In another upsetting story, Dang Quoc Nghia, of Cam Xuyen District, phoned his wife from Angola on March 3 to tell her that he was about to get his salary.

Tragically, he was also shot dead by armed thieves that afternoon, leaving behind his wife and three young children.   

Nghia’s neighbors recalled that back in 2012, when his wife was pregnant with their third child, he took loans to fly to Angola to take up menial work in the hope of changing their life for the better.

He did all kinds of jobs during his four-year stay in the African country, but did not clear his debts until recently.

Le Van Que, 35, of Nghia Xuan District, was also tragically shot dead in Angola.

Like his fellow Vietnamese, he flew to Angola on a VND120 million ($5,295) loan and purchased a kiosk where he offered photography and printing services.

It did not take him long to become disillusioned however, as his shop was frequently broken into by thieves.

“After one and a half years in Angola, my husband could no longer send home any money. In late 2015, he was shot in the leg by thieves and died from blood loss,” his wife recalled in tears.

Terrifying

Ho Sy Lam, a resident of Ky Anh District, has been on medication for weeks now to treat his facial wounds after being slashed by robbers while working in Angola.

He revealed that in late 2014 he followed suit and took loans after many of his countrymen flew to the African country in the hope of changing their lives for the better.

Lam worked for several Vietnamese owners in the capital of Luanda shortly after his arrival.

After a while, he began undertaking his own construction projects, but was too scared of being robbed to venture outside at night.

In early February 2016, Lam and his cousin were stopped by four thieves who stole their silver necklaces and any money they had on them.

One even hit Lam in the head, drawing blood.

As they fought back, the thugs escaped, but struck again six days later, breaking into Lam’s room and stealing all of his valuables as he was celebrating Lunar New Year’s Eve at his relatives’.

In late February, the same four thieves scaled the second floor of where Lam and his cousin were living with two guns in their hands.

“After overpowering Linh [Lam’s cousin], the four gangsters stormed into my room and demanded I give them kwanzas [the Angolan currency],” Lam recalled.

As he did not have money on him, the gang slashed him across his face, while his cousin received a wound on his hip.

Following one-week of treatment at the local hospital in the capital, Lam insisted his wife borrow money so that he could fly home as soon as possible.

Likewise, Nguyen Thi Nhi, of Ky Anh District, said that she was persuaded by a former classmate living in Angola to fly to the country for work.

The taxing work left the disillusioned woman with a debilitating illness, motivating her to consider returning home.

She was however tempted to stay by the same classmate, who later demanded VND100 million ($4,413) before she could leave the place.

“Within the next month, I was apprehended by the local police twice and fined more than $1,500. I then borrowed money to fly home instantly,” Nhi added.

Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, head of the Department of Overseas Labor Management, under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that despite the department’s and local governments’ multiple warnings, workers in Vietnam’s central region have flocked to Angola via unofficial and illegal channels.

“As these workers are generally employed by one company but end up working for another, they are mostly unprotected if arrested by local police,” he elaborated.

Apart from constant shootings and muggings, migrant workers are highly susceptible to diseases due to unhygienic and expensive food.

“We licensed some firms who sent workers to Angola on a pilot basis, but no one is interested in this highly risky market now,” he added.

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