Man on a mission to clean up canals
HCM CITY Wooden stick in hand, with his wrinkled and tanned skin, 78-year-old Phamï Vanê Tanâ is doing what hes done for four decades. Picking up trash.
A canal near where he grew up in HCM Citys Laïc Long Quaân District, was once a place to swim, relax and have fun. But that was when he was a child.
Forty years ago, Taân looked out over the very same canal and saw something very different. Overflowing with waste and water as black as night.
Little by little he would start to collect the trash. And not only would he remove it from the water, he would then separate it into two bags, organic or not, to be collected and taken to the dump.
His mission started small, cleaning up only the section near his house. But this soon expanded, the Noâng thoân Ngaøy nay (Countryside Today) newspaper reported.
Some people call me crazy but I dont care, said Taân who would collect the rubbish whenever he had spare time.
I do the job because I want the canal is alive like it should be, he said, fearing if he didnt collect the waste, the canal would eventually die.
Whats more was the smell. A horrible odour filling his nostrils, more so when the rains came.
Taân said he also worried because the number of waste discharged into the canal seems to become bigger day by day.
And to add to his worries was the location of two primary schools, close enough to the canal for the pupils to be disgusted by the smell.
Now four decades later, Taâns arms still bear the scares of his labour, caused by broken glass or other sharp objects hes picked up over the years.
But hes not bothered, claiming everything is okay as his skin heals quickly.
Taâns wife said she at first did not know his job. She only knew when neighbours told her and disapproved of his line of work.
I tell him its nonsense and I dont agree, she said.
However, Taân did not change his mind due to her words. Despite her opposition, he still gradually carried on with his job.
One time, when Taân woke up
at a midnight because it was raining, he quickly grabbed his stick to go to the canals section near his house to pick waste.
Soaking wet through, Taân returned his house with a smile on his face, knowing hed picked up the waste before morning came and saving his neighbours waking up to a repulsive smell.
At that moment, Taâns wife changed her mind and decided to support him.
Taân said, My wifes support is the biggest motivation for me to continue doing the voluntary job.
I think the happy moment for me is when I hear the bubbling sound from the water flowing over the canal without being blocked by waste, he said.
Taân, was once given a certificate of the Peoples Committee of HCM City for setting a good example for others.
He doesnt do it for awards. He does it because its the right thing to do, and as long as hes able, hell carry on making the Vietä Nam that little bit better for those who call it home.VNS
Taâns mission started small, cleaning up only the section near his house. But this soon expanded. Photo danviet.vn