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Agricultural production, land ownership, children’s education, jobs outside of agriculture, national policies and the world market all affect their lives in unpredictable ways.

Uncertainty Haunts Lives of Many People in the Southern Part of Vietnam, Japanese Research Says
Increase in the medical cost has not only been regarded as one of most serious social problems in Vietnam, but is also related to other social and economic situations that the farmers live in. Along with health, as we have seen, a number of other factors contribute to their anxiety. 
Agricultural production, land ownership, children’s education, jobs outside of agriculture, national policies and the world market all affect their lives in unpredictable ways.
Present uncertainties also make farmers of the rural Mekong Delta anxious about the future because they do not know how life changes the short term and how they will live in years to come. They worry that the future of agriculture is not certain, not only because the weather is unpredictable and the quality and quantity of products unknown, but also because prices, taxes, and governmental policies can change abruptly. 
They say, “It is hard for us to live. We do not know what will happen next, and we only wait and wait.” This feeds their worry about being left behind in this new era, and pushed down into weaker and weaker social positions.
An uncertain future is a source of anxiety for older people, too. Uncle Bay and Aunt Tam, two people living in the area, express their concern: “we are already old, and we cannot work on the farm as much as we used to. We worry if our children can take care of us when we are older, because everybody has a difficult life and has his or her own family to take care of. We hope that our youngest son will marry an ordinary girl from the village and take care of us, but we are concerned that he will marry someone from the city, where he works.” 
The father continues, “I am very old and weak now, so I can’t work very much. I can only water the pigs and do some light work on the farm. If I did not have savings, I would have died already, because I cannot work much now. I do not want to borrow money, because I do not know if I can repay the debt.” 
Uncle Bay often complains that he is weak and not healthy. Some days he would spend the whole afternoon lying on a hammock in the front yard without going to the field, and he would tell me how unhealthy and sick he felt. His body and stomach often hurt, and he took medicines regularly.
Especially because some of their children have left the village to work outside of family farming,
Uncle Bay and Aunt Tam wonder if any of their children will be able to support them when they are old.5 With rapid urbanization and industrialization taking place in areas around Can Tho City, their concern is more widely shared by old parents. They fear that they may not be able to sustain daily life and may just have to “wait to die”, particularly if they cannot expect their children to
support them in old age, which was the custom in the past.
Youngest Brother, however, is aware of his parents’ concerns. He acknowledges that they are already old and it is getting difficult for them to support themselves. He thinks it is difficult for older people to stay healthy when old. When I was talking with Youngest Brother about my own family and told him that my grandfather was ninetytwo years old and my grandmother was eighty-three and that they were both healthy, he commented, “In Japan, life is more comfortable, so maybe people can live longer and healthier than in Vietnam. In Vietnam, like my parents, people have to work hard when they are old, so they become weak. But in Japan, maybe it is different.” 
The information was one part of the report “Living with uncertainty” by Setsuko Shibuya.

DIEP NGUYEN