As more women in Việt Nam become single mothers for different reasons, several groups have been launched online to help them overcome financial difficulties, provide them with access to better child care, and stand firm against social stigmas.
One such group in Hồ Chí Minh City is:
“Hội những bà mẹ nuôi con bằng đôi tay và nước mắt”
(Association of Single Mothers Raising Their Children with their Hands and Tears).
Membership to the group is exclusive to single mothers only.
According to its management, the group now has almost 2,000 members.
Many members from other provinces also take part in the occasional offline meetings.
Several other online groups, exclusive or not, also gather single mothers together.
These women have become single mothers for a number of reasons.
Some are married, but were neglected or deserted by their husbands, or abused by their husbands or in-laws.
Others are abandoned by their lovers as soon as they get pregnant, or are pressured to have an abortion, but refuse and then break up.
The common theme of these groups is that they do not discriminate, no matter a person’s past.
Single mothers, who are members of ‘Hội những bà mẹ nuôi con bằng đôi tay và nước mắt’ (Association of Single Mothers Raising Their Children with their Hands and Tears) get together at a recent offline meeting in Hồ Chí Minh City
‘My baby is everything’
Ngoc, a 24-year-old single mother, took her 14-month-old son from northern Việt Nam’s Hải Phòng Province to Hồ Chí Minh City.
“I got divorced when I was four months pregnant, as my husband is intorably obedient to his mother.
I decided to leave my hometown for Hồ Chí Minh City to shrug off my past and prevent my in-laws from ‘stealing’ my son.
They ‘stole’ him once, and I only got him back with the local government’s intervention.”
The young mother is now renting a room in Tân Phú District and working for a non-govermental organization for a meager monthly salary of VND2-3 million (up to US$141).
Unfortunately, her son has medical problems with his testicles and needs an operation when he turns two.
Ngọc is trying everything so that she can earn enough money for her baby son’s surgery.
Nghiêm Yến Bình, another 24-year-old single mother in Hồ Chí Minh City, revealed that three months after she and her ex-husband registered for a marriage certificate and when she was three months pregnant, her father passed away.
Her in-laws forced her to wed, but she refused, as she wanted to wait one year until she was no longer in mourning over her father’s death.
She soon got divorced, mainly because her husband had a love affair during her pregnancy.
Bìh also faced a life-threatening situation when she was harmed by her own brother while fighting for heirship to their father’s restaurant.
During her eight-month pregnancy, the young woman could hardly sleep.
She worked 17 hours a day, suffered insomnia, and was on constant sleeping medication.
She was once hospitalized after bleeding profusely, and a doctor scolded her for almost killing her child.
“It suddenly dawned on me that I must not succumb to hurdles, and instead live well for both myself and my baby.
Now that my baby is seven months old, I’m ready to resume working and have my life back.”
The young mother shared.
Bình now serves as an administrator of the Association of Single Mothers Raising Their Children with Their Hands and Tears, and has been of tremendous help to other single mothers.
One of Bình’s cases involved helping a woman who was being forced to have an abortion by both her own family and her in-laws.
The woman had no choice but to run away from home to give birth to her son.
With the meager salary of an accountant, she had to leave her 20-month-old son alone at home for two hours in the morning to work as domestic help.
Many single mothers, who are often workers at industrial zones in Hồ Chí Minh City and other provinces, are in need of help and face immense financial difficulties.
N.T.T, 23, a worker at VSIP Industrial Zone in Binh Duong province, some 20km from Hồ Chí Minh City, is currently seven months pregnant.
Five months into her pregnancy, she found out that her boyfriend was married with a child.
She decided to break up with him and raise her baby on her own with a monthly salary of VND4 million ($188).
Unfortunately, a fire took place at the company where T. was working.
She, along with many other workers, was laid off, with no unemployment allowances.
What’s worse, the woman doesn’t have the courage to face her family back home.
Most members of the group are quite young and educated, but have poorly-paid jobs.
Rejected by their own family, many have to fend for themselves and their young children.
Mental and financial assistance
Over the past two years, a single mother named Stephani Vinh Ngọc has helped others in similar situations.
She has provided shelter and jobs for several single mothers at her rented room in Thủ Đức District, where she’s staying with her baby.
She runs her own Facebook page to share and link with single mother’s groups across the country.
As soon as she receives a plea for help from a single mother on her Facebook, Ngọc contacts them and guides them to the nearest possible nursery homes.
Other members of single mother groups also provide their contact details so that those in need can ask for help.
The groups’ members also comfort and help one another survive their crises and stand firm in the face of social stigmas against unmarried or divorced mothers.
One of the thorniest questions from single mothers’ children is their father’s whereabouts, and why they’re denied fatherly affection, unlike their peers.
Many single mothers tell their young children that they have no father, or their father is dead, which hurts the children’s feelings and could even be responsible for psychological issues, including depression and autism.
Source: Tuổi Trẻ News