Covid orphaned children grow up in alien environments

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She puts them to sleep and calms them whenever they are frightened or frightened.

The Covid-19 has again and again devastated the families of the two children.

After their father died in a hospital in late July, their mother died six hours later in another Ho Chi Minh City hospital and their paternal grandfather died in a quarantine center five days later.

Tran Khanh Nhu and Tran Dang Huy, 13 and 6, are no longer in a familiar world.

As the only living parents, Huong and her husband had to move their grandchildren from District 8 of HCMC to their village in Dong Nai Province. Although the couple retired from their fishing vocation a few years ago, her husband now rises early to prepare tools and fish on the Dong Nai River, trying to earn several hundred thousand dong (100,000 VND = $ 4.36) per day to support themselves. family with orphaned grandchildren.

Nhu and Huy are among many children forced to leave their familiar surroundings and move to new ones after Covid-19 claimed the lives of their parents.

Tran Dang Huy is studying with her grandmother in Dong Nai province in December 2021. Photo acquired by VnExpress

The Institute of Labor Sciences and Social Affairs of the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs told the Vietnam Economic Forum 2021 that on December 5, the pandemic had left nearly 2,500 children orphaned. Among them, around 100 children have lost both parents to Covid.

With the traumatic loss of parents comes the loss of their home and having to live with loved ones in strange places.

“The fourth wave of Covid-19 (from April) has turned the lives of many children upside down, leaving many of them without a familiar place to lean on,” said Nguyen Thi Thu Huyen, program director of the educational charity Teach For Vietnam.

Tran Thi Tuyet Ngan, 11, learned to live on her own in a dilapidated house in southern Soc Trang province after her mother died from Covid-19. Her father was fatally electrocuted six years ago.

Even before her mother’s death, Ngan’s family was the poorest in the community.

His older brother, Trinh Van Nhan, had to drop out of school after their father died and travel to HCMC to sell fruit at the Thu Duc wholesale market. A year later, his mother also brought Ngan to the city and worked as a porter. The three family members lived in a 15 square meter room near their workplace.

Ngan’s mother contracted Covid in August this year and died after seven days of treatment in a field hospital. The brother and sister returned to their hometown after collecting their mother’s ashes.

After building a cemetery for their mother, Ngan’s brother received a phone call from the store owner, urging him to return to work.

As he could not physically take care of his sister as he had to work from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., Nhan had to ask his uncle to take care of Ngan while he was away.

Tran Thi Tuyet Ngan studies at a central quarantine facility before being returned to her hometown in Soc Trang province in September 2021. Photo courtesy of Ngan

Tran Thi Tuyet Ngan studies at a central quarantine facility before returning to her hometown in Soc Trang province in September 2021. Photo courtesy of Ngan

On the day of his return to HCMC, the 21-year-old left home in the middle of the night while his sister was sleeping because she did not want to let him go. He left her a note.

The note read: “Stay focused on your studies. I will work to earn more money, and I will be back with you next month on the anniversary of my father’s death.”

La Linh Nga, director of the Center for Research and Application in Educational Psychology (PPRAC), said children who lose a loved one unexpectedly can experience long-term negative psychological impacts and react in unpredictable ways.

Grandmother Huong regularly rubs Huy on the back when he wakes up from crying in the middle of the night.

“Go to sleep, your parents will be back tomorrow,” she said.

She did not dare to reveal the truth to her 6 year old grandson.

She drove him to HCMC about a month ago after the situation calmed down to pack their things and return the rented room. When the boy arrived home and saw his parents’ belongings, he held them and cried.

As his grandmother tried to pack the parents’ clothes, the boy asked, “If you take Mum and Dad’s clothes, what will they wear when they get back?”

Nhu, 13, hides her feelings from her grandparents. Every night, she sits alone in her bedroom, holding pictures of her parents and sobbing into the pillow before falling asleep.

Ngan took online classes with her parents after her brother left. The girl does not visit her uncle until it is time to eat and sleep.

Nhan calls his younger sister whenever he has free time. She cries and blames him for not taking her to Saigon.

“When I have everything sorted out, I’ll take you here,” Nhan promises. He just applied to work overtime in a company in the hope of increasing his income. “I have to do this for my sister,” he said.

Huyen with Teach for Vietnam said losing a loved one and then suddenly moving to a new place will leave a child in shock. She said guardians should try to limit changes in daily routines that can help children in some ways. Guardians should understand from children what their family’s daily routines were and stick to some of the activities and habits that do not need to be changed.

Family reunions during the holidays and festive occasions like Head (Lunar New Year) can make bereaved children feel more lonely than usual and feel the pain of not having their parents more. Therefore, guardians and other relatives should stay close to children for at least the first two years and maintain regular routines, Huyen said.

She also said that having an honest and frank conversation about a parent’s death can be more beneficial for children than avoiding the truth or lying to them.

The adults around them can remind them of their parents’ positive qualities and inspire them to pray together that good things always happen to their parents in the hereafter, she added.

Now, whenever his younger brother cries, Nhu doesn’t look away. Instead, she rushes to console him. She points to the sky and tells Huy that their parents are like stars watching them.

“Our parents will be happy if their children do well in school and help their grandparents with the housework,” she says.

“My eyes itch when I listen to it,” Huong said.

But she said she also recognizes that despite all the hardships and challenges, as long as the children are healthy and the family understands each other, they will be able to weather the storm.


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