I believe giving is receiving

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My name is Jessica, I’m 34 years old and I am a transsexual. I run a makeup shop. Furthermore, I design and lease outfits in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I trained young transgender people in difficult situations. You can find information about my shop on Google named Cà Boutique.

What was originally planned for 2020 before the COVID-19 attack?

Just before Covid happened, I planned to build another sewing factory or a restaurant this year so that I could create more jobs for the youth in the LGBT community in Vietnam. Unfortunately, all were canceled because of that one outbreak. 

How did pandemic affect your life, work and field?

Actually, during the first phase the Covid pandemic took place where I live. At that time I was not equipped at all. I was also working during the Vietnamese New Year far away from home. Abruptly, I lost my job when all was isolated so I was just able to buy extra food, masks and hand wash. 

During the first pandemic wave, I lost a lot. I had to let the children go home to avoid the pandemic as I could not take care of everything. I sold more food online to make a living—like for take away delivery , e.g. cooked meals and rice for the youth who had a hard time. My family’s place became a place to help others voluntarily. It was my friends who found a way to be more supportive so this way I can share situations throughout the western and central part of Vietnam.

How do you dominate yourself during a pandemic? And for Vietnam with relatively small cases of COVID-19, what can you do/exhibit during this time? 

Translating so suddenly the info on Covid-19, I myself almost collapsed. The money I saved was gone during the pandemic season. But seeing situations that are more miserable than me, “comforted” me. “Mum is fighting and trying to keep the salaries. We will take care of the shop,” the kids said to encourage and help me. I try to share what is possible for everyone because I think giving is receiving!

What are you most proud of during this period?

Currently, this is the second outbreak. There are people dying and things became more dangerous. I have had the first experience so the second time I am proud to have equipped enough medical supplies, food and knowledge to overcome the pandemic calmly.

What is your main concern?

My concern is that if the pandemic will last for a long time, I don’t know if I can still afford the store. Actually, if it is not a good time, I will sell everything and find something to help build from scratch—meant for the children who are helpless. I will send them to the places where I used to let them work.

What do you think will happen to your new COVID-19 / normal post?

During the first outbreak, people were watching me share food often. I just shared from other posters the news about the Covid—information which was translated. In Vietnam, people can be arrested and fined for sharing fake news.

What support do you / artists need and are not currently being provided? 

Vietnam currently has emergency support funds for businesses or employees from the Covid-19 phase 1, but we have not received it.

Is there any advice you can share with LGBTI artists? 
(from work, to dealing with mental health, etc.)

No one misses the information about the Covid-19. Everyone must be really careful and stay healthy. Loss of property can be regained. But health and financial loss cannot be regained. I try hard and keep believing because if I fall apart, the whole community will be helpless. It seems like this time, life is to be lived slowly while we are experiencing many things…

Anything else you want?

May the pandemic quickly pass. God has already punished enough men. Give us the opportunity to start over. 

Contributor: Jessica, Vietnam / Apcom

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