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New park puts spring in hamlet's step

Update: November, 15/2015 - 05:24
Upswing: Luong Ngoc Thanh and Tran Thi Ganh exercise every day in a 2,000sq.m park in Phuoc Kien Commune's Hamlet 1 in HCM City's Nha Be District. — VNS Photos Van Dat

A park funded by residents of a rural HCM City hamlet has brought exercise and open space to a community that once existed without it. Luu Van Dat reports.

Since the opening of a 2,000-square metre park less than a year ago, the residents of a rural HCM City hamlet seem to have developed a new zest for life.

Before the park was built, there had been no space for exercise, badminton, football or skateboarding in Phuoc Kien Commune's Hamlet 1, located in the outlying district of Nha Be.

The hamlet's narrow alleys were the only places where residents could play outdoor games or exercise.

Luong Ngoc Thanh, who lives in District 3 but often stays at her daughter's home in the commune, said that robberies and traffic accidents would sometimes occur on the alleys at that time.

"I can now visit the park every day at 4:30am to exercise and use the equipment there. The atmosphere is very lively now," Thanh said.

Tran Thi Ganh, who is Thanh's neighbour and exercises with her, said she moved from Tay Ninh Province to her daughter's house in the commune.

"It's challenging to live in a place without a park. If the park had not been built, I don't think I would stay here for a long time," Ganh said.

The park was largely paid for by local resident Nguyen Thi Sen, 78, and her family, who donated both money and the land.

Five years ago, Sen told her family about her wish to establish an area where people could relax and exercise.

Her daughter, Nguyen Thi Phuong Hong, said the entire family had supported her and had donated a total of VND900 million (US$41,000).

"My mother has nothing to worry about now, as her business did well. Her final wish in life is to do something meaningful for the community," Hong said.

For years, Sen had heard about the national "new rural area" programme and its goals to upgrade people's material and cultural life in communes around the country.

Sen, who has been unable to go the park because of a traffic accident, is still happy that local residents are thrilled with the new park.

Wide open spaces: Nguyen Thi Phuong Hong of HCM City takes great pride in the park she helped build with donations of land and money.

The daughter Hong remembers that decades ago her family lived in poverty.

Her mother made brooms to earn money to feed the family, which had land but could earn very little from it, she said.

"We finally escaped poverty. Since then, my family has often donated funds to charity and helped people who live in poverty in the neighbourhood," Hong said.

Sen's family is one of 19,650 households in HCM City that have donated more than 2 million square metres of land to build roads, schools, healthcare centres and other public facilities after a nationwide "new rural area" campaign began in 2011.

As of the end of this year, HCM City residents had contributed VND7.7 trillion to the programme, which is carried out all over the country.

All of the communes in the city's rural districts of Nha Be, Hoc Mon and Cu Chi have met all criteria set by the central government for new rural areas.

After five years of implementation, 50 out of 56 rural communes in the city have been recognised as a new rural area, after meeting standards required by the government. The city expects the remaining six communes to meet programme criteria by 2020.

Without the support of thousands of local residents like Sen and her family, the city has acknowledged that it would find it even more challenging to complete the new rural area programme. — VNS

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