NGHỆ AN — Hồ Phi Quyết dons her boots and gloves, and picks up a big bag every weekend to collect rubbish around his neighbourhood.
It’s not his job, but he has being doing for the past three years.
Last year, when Quyết’s youngest daughter reached the age of two, his wife Nguyễn Thị Mai started joining him.
The couple, both in their thirties, send their young children to their relatives' houses while they are out collecting rubbish, but sometime there's nobody available so they set out with their parents.
Quyết lives in Quỳnh Lộc Commune, Hoàng Mai Town in the central province of Nghệ An, where he works as an excavator driver at a mine.
He mostly does night shifts, so he has time during the day to help out with other volunteers in his commune.
The club sometimes organises rubbish collection days with the participation of local high school students.
“The best volunteer work starts at home,” Quyết told himself.
Quỳnh Lôi Commune asked locals to separate their rubbish at home and drop it at regulated dumps, but not everyone followed the request. Some still throw rubbish away whenever and wherever they feel like.
“If the work I do makes people change their habits and raises awareness of protecting the environment, it's worthwhile,” said Quyết.
Quyết is the breadwinner in his family because Mai is busy with taking care of their first child Hồ Phi Quang. Quang suffers from a serious disease that needs special care.
Some of their friends have told them to stop volunteering so they can earn more money, but they polite refuse.
They are poor but still pay for the big bags they use to collect the rubbish.
Quyết started off by using old bags donated by locals, which he washed and reused. That supply gradually ran out, so now he pays VNĐ4,000 (US$0.17) per bag.
Some people think it's only a little, but it’s not, said Quyết.
“I spend every penny properly and live a meaningful life. I do the things that I believe are useful,” he said.
The husband and wife talk about their volunteer work collecting rubbish. — Photo dantri.com.vn
On average, they collect about three big bags of rubbish per day, such as inorganic and recyclable waste including bottles, cans, paper and plastic.
Then they take it to a dump in the commune. Every Monday, workers from an environmental company collect it.
Now they are not alone. Hồ Thị Phương, a woman living in the same commune, has agreed to share their work every weekend, and locals have gradually changed their opinions about what they are doing.
Hồ Quốc Úy, deputy chairman of the Quỳnh Lộc Commune People’s Committee, said there was a large amount of rubbish in the area, and collections were not a regular occurrence.
Quyết and his wife had helped raise people’s awareness and changed their habits to protect the environment, said Úy.
The most valuable part of their efforts was that more people were volunteering to collect rubbish in the commune, he added. — VNS