Vietnamese culture dictates that when a man and a woman get married, the wife leaves her own family behind and relies on her husband for security and support. If the husband no longer is able to provide shelter and food for his wife, his extended family is responsible for taking her in.

But cultural norms can be malleable depending on circumstance. When Ly Thi Mui’s husband went into psychiatric treatment, her in-laws blamed her for their son’s mental problems. Instead of supporting Mui, her husband’s family kicked her out of their home.

Mui and her son, Pha, have been living on the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam since 2002.

Even though Mui and Pha face many difficulties and have very little means to survive, they try to keep a positive outlook on their life together. They find happiness in the love and companionship they offer each other.

Photographer Ehrin Macksey followed Mui and Pha in June, 2007, capturing their lives on the streets. The following photo essay documents their moments of happiness and struggle.

In 2009, Mui reunited with her husband, and the family now lives in a house near the Red River. Mui and Pha continue to play in the river, and are much happier and healthier than they were before.

[Click here to view the slideshow]

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