Working hours: Nine hours a day, six days a week
I love this job. I love helping people. Because I treat the same patients for years and years, I develop relationships with them and that makes me want to continue working. And then it brings in an income for me. Also my patients start bringing their children in to see me, so it’s hard for me to stop. When I was younger I had a lot of surgeries, had to work emergencies. But now that I have more experience, I don’t work like that anymore, I write more prescriptions, give medical advice.
Because of this job, especially working closely with cancer, I see people in the last stages of their lives. That’s the depressing part of the job. Vietnamese people always seem to turn up at the last stage.
No worries. Although if I didn’t continue to work after retiring, [just receiving the VND3 million a month for my pension], I couldn’t survive. It’s common here that people have savings in case they are sick later. Even though I’m a doctor and can get my hospital to care for me, the insurance doesn’t cover much at all.
VND3 million a month pension from National Cancer Hospital
VND15 million a month from Hanoi Polyclinic Hospital
VND6 million a month from operations (VND500,000 for each operation, 3 operations a week)
VND6 million from stake as shareholder in hospital
—Total income per month VND30 million a month
House. Purchased for VND 20 billion with combined earnings from spouse
Food. VND10 million per month
Taxi. VND6 million per month (VND240,000 a day)
Family events (visits / weddings / funerals). Between VND200,000 and VND5 million per wedding
Bills (electricity and water). VND1.5 million per month
Savings. VND5 million a month
Other. VND2 million for leisure.
— Indeterminable. Unknown outgoings for cost of care for family and friends
The Paper Collector
Working Hours: 11 hours a day, seven days a week
I really like this job. I like making things clean, I like collecting things that people are going to throw away, I like helping them make their houses cleaner. I get a lot of trust and love from people around. If I’m gone for a few days, people will ask what happened to me. People know me. I only take 10 days off a year. I’m always here. And it’s very stable work — there are only a few people who have a stable job like me. I know a lot of young women from the countryside who have a hard time and sometimes have to do more shady jobs.
Nothing. This is a very easy job, very relaxed. There is no competition. Dealing with people is nice and I don’t feel any stress. Sometimes I guess I feel a little tired and have to move my piles from the street to a storage space. This is a hard job, but it’s clean.
I’m worried that if my husband or I get sick, we’ll have to spend a lot of money on hospitals and medicine. Right now we both have about VND100 million in savings. But we’re healthy. If we get sick, we don’t want to create a burden for our children. That’s the only thing that I’m worried about. My kids are grown up and have stable jobs and a house. I don’t have to think about that anymore. I only hope for good health so that I’m able to keep working everyday and I don’t have to rely on my children.
Paper purchased at VND3,500 per kilo. Sold at VND4,000 per kilo
Plastic and metal purchased at VND6,000 per kilo. Sold at VND8,000vnd per kilo
Copper purchased at VND100,000 per kilo. Sold at VND120,00 per kilo
— VND3 million per month
Rice. Free from daughter in the countryside
House. Free from son who bought house for them
Food. VND1.35 million per month (VND45,000 a day)
Gas. VND150,000 per month (VND5,000 a day)
Bills (electricity and water). VND300,000 per month
— Savings. VND1.5 million per month
My kids have finished school so I don’t have to pay for that anymore. I also used to have to send money home to my brother who was a farmer and my parents who needed help. I sometimes sent VND2 million home, but not anymore. I come from a poor background and have to work hard to earn money, so I don’t spend money on anything not necessary.