Livelihood in the flood season
When the water of the Mekong River turns into a cloudy alluvial red color, it is also the time when households attached to fishing for their livelihood are preparing to enter the fishing season. Although they have to work hard, they always have a dream of a better life for future generations in their hearts.
As usual, after the Mid-year Festival, the water begins to “turn” to alluvial red with the water hyacinths drifting from the upstream, signaling the coming of the livelihood season of the people in the flood areas. Mr. Dinh Van Hoa, a resident in My Duc commune (Chau Phu), shared: “In the fourth lunar month, there were customers who came to order. After the lunar May 5, when the water in the river becomes cloudy again, it is time to prepare for the new trapping season, with the yield gradually increasing when the flood season arrives. When the water recedes, residents temporarily arrange the tools to “let off steam” for a few months. During that time, I carried a few traps and placed them in the canal to grab a few kilograms of crabs a day, and my income was enough to cover the family’s expenses.”
These crab trapping villagers live in such a seasonal way with this hereditary profession. In addition to customers in the province, they also have acquaintances in Dong Thap and Long An, even people in the province of Takeo (Cambodia) also come down to order. During each season of floating water, Mr. Hoa sells from 2,500 to 3,000 crab traps, earning a profit of nearly 20 million VND. When the water “swallows” all the fields to discharge the flood, Mr. Hoa brought his “professional skills” with his canoe and advanced to Vinh Gia and Vinh Dieu areas (bordering Tri Ton district with Giang Thanh district – Kien Giang), sometimes going to Takeo province, Kandal (Cambodia) to order crabs, bringing in a good income.
Despite “living with the flood” like Mr. Hoa, Mr. Tran Van Quang (living in Vinh Hoa hamlet, Vinh Hoi Dong commune, An Phu) has more difficulty with the job of placing snakehead fish traps. For his livelihood, he also tried to travel further the fields in Pung Xang (Takeo province) to register for fishing. “Every season, in order to put snakehead fish traps in those fields, we have to pay a tax of 25 million dong/season. If we can catch a great deal of fish in that year, there will be a meal, otherwise, we will suffer a capital loss. Working hard but sometimes not getting anything in return is very sad. Now that I have good health, I have to try to take care of my family’s life “- Mr. Quang confided. Like Mr. Quang, most people in Vinh Hoa hamlet live mainly by working as hired laborers in other localities in the dry season. When the flood season comes, they will be busy preparing fishing gear. Mr. Quang pulled his boat up and re-oiled it to make sure it works well. The traps that were dried and then neatly arranged on the floor since the end of the previous flood season are also carefully examined.
In Khanh An commune (An Phu), households mainly catching snails for a livelihood also prepare for their business season. Mr. Ngo Van Ut Em shared: “At this time, there are not so many snails, we have to wait until about July – August of the lunar calendar to have a better income thanks to the abundant snail quantity”. According to Mr. Ut Em, the people who earn their living from selling snails can only have a good income in the flood season. For them, the flood season also means an increase in their family income compared to the dry season months.
Amid the hardships, the residents in the flood areas still have a lot of hopes for their future generations. In the hamlets that are often flooded during the flood season of Vinh Hoi Dong commune such as Vinh An and Vinh Hoa, children still go to school to every day for their literacy skills. In the most difficult conditions, Mr. Quang still wants his children to go to school in the flood season. Every time he comes home from a working period, seeing his children go to school is a joy and encouragement for him to continue to cope with challenges to provide a source of life for his family. Mr. Quang said: “Annually, in the flood season, my children are transported to school by local authorities and some local organizations. Being illiterate, I have to work harder. I will try to encourage my children to go to school so that they can make more progress in the future without struggling to make a living when the flood season comes.”
Article & photos by THANH TIẾN http://www.baoangiang.com.vn/An-Giang-24-Gio/Thoi-su/Muu-sinh-mua-lu.html.