Voices Unheard: Family-Run Business Struggles During “Safer At Home” Orders

Leylia Vang, Reporter

During the hard times of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses, including small and big family businesses, have been shut down in Wisconsin due to the “Safer at Home” order by our governor, Tony Evers. Many individuals including Rosa Nguyen, a Junior from DeForest Area High School, have had to face the hardships of hardly-English-speaking parents and being the only source of income for her entire family, while receiving no help whatsoever. 

Rosa Nguyen’s parent’s nail salon has been temporarily closed due to the stay at home order. She has had to provide for her family since they have not received any compensation for their business closing down. “It’s a family owned business, so both my parents and my older brother work there, and since they aren’t making any income I’m currently the only source of income,” Nguyen says. Loyal customers of theirs have called and checked in to offer help. One of their customers even tried to offer money, but her parents won’t take it because, “I don’t think they like the idea of taking their customer’s money. It’s also a cultural thing and the way their minds are set.”

Because Rosa is more healthy and the least at risk of the virus in her family, she has picked up more shifts at Kwik Trip to cover expenses. However, it hasn’t been the smoothest ride at home for her: “I try to help with applying for things and calling since my English is better, but the hard part is they [her parents] put their anger towards me if I can’t understand all these questions being asked.” It’s very stressful on both ends, and tension rises between them because communication is difficult. Rosa has put in a lot of work to be able to keep her family up and running. “I want to help,” she says, “but I feel lost in the process.”

This experience has brought her to her knees, having to be the only one providing for her family on top of her school work. Different sides of her family members are starting to unfold: “This has made my family so toxic and to see another side of my parents I haven’t seen. It just shows how money can really affect one another.” It isn’t just Rosa going through this though. “This applies to my whole… family, from Seattle to Vietnam. We all own nail salons and I bet all my cousins feel the same way I do.” The pandemic isn’t the only thing these families have to worry about. Finding a source of income to supply the family is a top priority now that their businesses have been shut down. The pandemic is taking a toll on families like these all around the world, and it seems as if nobody is noticing.