Insufficient Funds: The Culture of Money in Low-Wage Transnational Families

By Hung Cam Thai | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
THE MIGRANT
PROVIDER ROLE

IN AN ARTSY CAFÉ off the corner of Le Loi and Dong Khoi, two of the most expensive boulevards in the new Saigon, forty-one-year-old Quy Le from Houston reveals he has worked as an electrical maintenance technician for the past fifteen years. His job, which pays $17 per hour, is to maintain the printing needs for more than five hundred cubicle workers in a data processing company. On his second espresso, Quy says that nowadays it is very difficult for people to get full-time work at his company, so he feels lucky to have a stable position. From his income and savings, he consistently helps his brother and sister with money. A third sibling, a sister, is married into a rich family, so she does not need his financial support. Although he has other extended family members still living in Vietnam, he has only committed to giving money to his two younger siblings. Giving money to them has become a mundane matter for Quy. “I started to send them money probably five years ago, after my parents stopped working in Houston, so I wanted my parents to stop taking the responsibility for them,” Quy explains. He describes his first return visit, and what motivated him to support his family:

When I came back for the first time, I really loved it here. My brother and sisters were
wonderful. The only thing was that they had very little then, and you can see that

-53-

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