Mekong Delta rope weaving families’ exodus to Saigon

By Quynh Tran    March 18, 2019 | 01:55 pm GMT+7

Unable to earn enough in their hometown, they come to Saigon, rent some land and resume their traditional work.

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business

Many families from the Mekong Delta are now making a living by weaving plastic ropes in Binh Hung Hoa B ward in Saigon’s Tan Binh District.

"Most people in this neighborhood came from An Giang Province 20 years ago," Hai Cua, 70, a weaver there, said.

"My family also did this back in my hometown, but we could not earn enough. Moving to the city has meant higher incomes."

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business - 1

The work requires a large empty space. So the rope weavers rent a piece of land measuring a few thousand square meters and build temporary houses right there. There are more than a dozen families in Tan Binh.

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business - 2

After rolls of strings are placed in a machine, workers pull one end of the strings and thread five to 10 of them through a tool which includes a long wooden bar attached with metal slots.

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business - 3

One person pulls the tool to stretch the rope to the end of the ground and then pulls the rope back to the location of the machine. The place is filled with strings.

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business - 4

When the machine runs, it weaves the strings together into a rope.

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business - 5

"To make a rope, I have to pull the strings many times," Phan Cong Hung, 40, a worker, says.

"The distance I walk must be about 20 kilometers. This work is only good when it is sunny. In the rainy season we just work as much as we could."

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business - 6

The workers must be careful while rolling the strings since if something goes wrong the rope could break.

"This job requires patience," Bui Thi Tung, another worker, said. "If the strings get tangled and you don’t notice, you may have to discard the whole roll."

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business - 7

The ropes once weaved are rolled up in bundles.

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business - 8

A kilogram of rope fetches VND2,000 - 5,000 ($0.08-0.22), depending on the size," Tung said. "Three people in my family do this work, and each makes around 100 kilogram of strings a day, earning VND200,000 ($8.64). In the rainy season, we have to start working early in the morning. Sometimes we need to work all night." They need to avoid the rain which usually comes during the day. 

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business - 9

Sweating profusely after pulling the strings in the midday sun, Sang, 18, said he has been doing this work for more than three years. He was born after his parents came to Saigon.

"After grade 9 I quit school because my family was poor. I don't like to make ropes since it is a tough and unreliable job. My siblings have all quit this job and become workers. I hope I can get a better job soon."

Mekong Delta families migrate to  Saigon neighborhood for rope weaving business - 10

The families bring their children with them to Saigon and living in shacks.

"This profession is really unreliable," Cua said. "I don't know when the landowner will take back the land to sell to someone. Then we will find a new place together. Though it is hard, the income is enough to cover living costs."

 
 
go to top