Babysitting, Hmong Style

12 Jun

Close-up of Hmong little girl carrying her baby brother on her back.

Babysitting, Hmong style.

It’s not easy being a woman in the Hmong tribal minority of northern Vietnam. Or a girl, for that matter.

This little girl is six, and had been carrying her eighteen-month old little brother in a sling on her back for most of the day.

The forlorn look?

Well, it could be the weight. He’s a chunky little fellow: he probably weighs more than half what she does. Or it could be the way he’s tugging at the huge silver earrings the women and girls all wear.

Baby brother playing with his sister's earring: Sapa, Vietnam.

Probably very irritating after a hard day's work.

It could be the impact of the Chinese melodrama on the telly she was watching through the window, nose virtually glued to the glass.

Or it could be that she’d had a hard day at work, hustling tourists to buy embroidery and bangles with the baby on her back.

Child labour in Asia comes in many forms, and in the cool, scenic highlands around Sapa, where we are now, it’s often very photogenic.

In this shot, she looks a bit more like a little girl again. She’ll be married in a decade or so, and the cycle will start again.

Hmong girl with her brother on back, smiling for the camera, Sapa, Vietnam.

A happy smile.

Thanks to Debbie Dubrow of Delicious Baby for hosting Photo Fridays, a collection of travel pics from around the web.

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7 Responses to “Babysitting, Hmong Style”

  1. itsasmallworldafterallfamily June 12, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    Fab photos! It’s one of the things I struggle with when travelling, the idea that maybe I’m contributing in some way to the suffering of the people that I’m going to see. But in this case, she’d probably be carrying her brother whether you were there or not. I’m looking forward to visiting Vietnam, I’ve never been.

    • MummyT June 13, 2010 at 7:34 pm #

      It’s a wonderful place. Also very frustrating. A loooot of scams and hustling. But absolutely gorgeous. Do you have your route set yet?

      • itsasmallworldafterallfamily June 13, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

        I’ve heard about the scams. We sort of have our route set. We have a RTW ticket, so our main flights are booked, but the detail isn’t worked out. We arrive in Singapore at the end of march and leave Bangkok at the beginning of July. We are planning to sort out what we do in between as we go along.

  2. Josie @Sleep is for the Weak June 14, 2010 at 3:05 am #

    That bottom photo is just beautiful. Gorgeous observations.

    • MummyT June 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

      Thank you! I’m thinking of getting a book on photography, as it happens, and trying to actually learn how to use things like exposure and shutter speed. Your photos are great: loved the control, short depth of field and composition on the sunny day out shots. What type of camera do you have, if you don’t mind me asking?

  3. Sarah V. June 16, 2010 at 4:42 am #

    Beautiful photos, even though they’re sad. I hope this girl has a good life and can break the cycle. Another reason why education is so important.

    • MummyT June 18, 2010 at 8:53 am #

      Yes! Very important, I think. On the other hand, there’s the case for allowing tribal minorities to live their traditional life undisturbed.

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