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Hard life

January 24, 2013

People sometimes say of the poor in Vietnam – they are poor but they are happy.

I think it’s a bit naive.

Life for some in Vietnam is so hard it is mindnumbing.

Their work is backbreaking, the pay is only for the desperate…

Early morning District 8, loading fertilizer from the Mekong Delta on and off barges.

Teams of over 20 men and women, ranging from early 20s to mid 60s, carry 50 kg sacks.

Loaded up down below, out of the bargehold, up bouncing planks to the deck.

The sacks wedged between their shoulders and head, neck ligaments stretched, the weight on the back of the neck pushes the faces down.

A square of thin leather or vinyl to cushion and protect the neck, the only safety equipment.

Dark eyes look up to see the back of the worker a few feet ahead.

Faded rubber thongs on their feet squish outwards as they strain their leg muscles up to the deck, collect a counting peg in the arm they use to balance.

Five workers at a time trudge from the barge to the truck tray across another bouncing plank

Hand their counting peg to a stout woman with a big hat on the truck tray.

Antlike expressions as the tired workers sling the sacks onto the stack and turn for another round.

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