“This old woman still goes to work. She works every day! Very strong! Each day she goes to work twice! She collects vegetables for pigs and cuts the wood for fires.” (her neighbor explains)

It was a rainy day driving through the mountains of Northern Vietnam when Trinh and I saw Quáy in front of her house wearing her full traditional clothing of the Red Dao ethnic group. We pulled over and began to talk with her but soon realized that we needed a translator to facilitate. Her first language is not Vietnamese but that of the Dao people (pronounced like “wow” with a Y or Z: Yow or Zow).

“I had the clothes made 2 years ago, but I wear them every day so they look old fast” (her daughter in law hand embroidered all the patterns on her shirt). “I don’t like wearing the other (non-ethnic) clothes,” she tells us, sitting in her living room as Pink Panther plays on the TV in the background.

“Can I hold your hands?” Quáy asks Trinh before reaching out and gently grasping her hands. “It reminded me of my great-grandma,” Trinh says wistfully.

Phàn Mạy Quáy, 102 years old
Red Dao Ethnic Group
Hai Gang, Vietnam

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