HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM – At 63, Nguyen Thi Ngoc landed her first full-time ‘company’ job as a security guard in Ho Chi Minh City. She had never been to a city before taking the job in early 2021, but the former farmer from the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam was indifferent to the urban bustle of the country’s largest city.
“I came here to work, make some money, not to play around,” she said, while sitting outside the semi-abandoned housing complex she guarded. “In the past six months, the only place I have visited is the market.”
About six years ago, Ngoc and her husband gave up their farm in Tien Giang province, on the Mekong Delta. Faced with increasing saltwater intrusion, they switched from growing rice to cultivating more salt-tolerant pineapples. But even this was not enough.