Covid-19 Takes Away a Single Mother’s Dream

A lao woman standing next to a motorbike she used to deliver food to her customers during the pandemic

Chandy, 28, shows a journalist the mode she used to deliver food during the pandemic.

Single mother Ms Chandy Othong, 28, is a strong woman. Without a husband, she has been fighting alone to earn a living and take care of her family. To keep herself competitive amid changing the environment, she has changed jobs several times.

When she was young, she helped her parents to farm rice when there was no water supply. She then worked as a vegetable vendor in a market, but when she realised there were too many people doing this work she changed tack again and began doing home delivery of vegetables and other food.

Her job promised a positive future for Ms Chandy, who has two children, but Covid-19 has taken away her dream to make money to support her family and provide a good education for her children.

“The job I have now is better than previous ones as I can make more money and it is enough to provide for my family. Unfortunately, the virus outbreak has taken away my job and my income,” said Ms Chandy, who was happy to explain the impact of the lockdown to a reporter.

The impact has been enormous because she was no longer able to do her job when the government imposed the lockdown from April 1-30 to slow the spread of the virus.

“I had never borrowed money to buy food before but the lockdown forced me to do so. I am now in debt to someone for about 1 million kip,” she said, adding that life under the lockdown had been the worst time of her life.

Before Covid-19 struck, she made a profit of about 100,000 kip (USD 11.09) a day from delivering vegetables and other food to people in Vientiane who were too busy to shop themselves.

“The business was quite good and I had a lot of customers. Sometimes customers called me and placed an order for food items they particularly wanted,” she recalled, adding that the golden age of her business now looked set to disappear.

She said that even though the government had relaxed the lockdown measures, the vegetable and food delivery business had not returned to normal, although some of her customers were still buying goods from her.

In addition, many people were eating less because they needed to save money during the lockdown and because of the uncertain future so they were no longer buying vegetable from her as in the past.

When asked about her future plans, she said she would like the authorities to ensure the situation returned to normal because she wanted to continue with her home delivery business.

She said that if the situation did not improve, she expected to continue to suffer from the crisis.

Ms Chandy said that what she wanted the most was training to keep herself safe while doing her job, adding that due to the nature of her work, she had to travel in urban areas, which put her at risk of getting infected with the disease.

In addition, she would like to learn a martial art so that she could defend herself if she were attacked by thieves while travelling around the city. She said she gets up early every morning to buy food at a market and then delivers it to her customers. Find out more about COVID-19 and Responses from Laos and the Greater Mekong Subregion