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Trash collectors unsung heroes during COVID restrictions

Update: August, 14/2021 - 08:49

A sanitation sweeps fallen leaves on Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street, Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Trương Vị

HÀ NỘI — Refuse is still being collected despite Hà Nội announcing its decision to extend stringent citywide social distancing and citizens having to stay at home for 15 more days until August 23.

Streets in the capital that are normally crowded are now deserted. At night, things are even quieter.

When everyone is asleep, many sanitation workers begin their work, as it is essential for minimising germs arising from waste to ensure environmental sanitation and people's health during lockdown.

During social distancing, trash collectors ensure streets are clean, making a huge impact on avoiding the spread of the pandemic. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyết

Cleaning the street is not just hard work, but also requires many sacrifices. Sometimes, streets at night can be extremely dangerous for the such workers.

In the early hours of August 3, Lê Thị Trâm, 40, was collecting garbage off Đại Mỗ Street. Due to the heavy garbage trolleys, she had to ride her motorbike to pull the trolleys to the local collection point.

At night, there are always people willing to clean the streets for the safety of the city on Trần Hưng Đạo Street, Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyết

While she was carrying out her duties, she was robbed by four young men riding two motorbikes without licence plates. The group grabbed her and took her motorbike despite her pleading.

“This motorbike was my family's most valuable asset, without it I don't know what to do,” Trâm said.

Luckily, she was not alone in this fight.

A trash collectors drags two garbage trolleys on Chùa Bộc Street, Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Trương Vị

On August 3, when receiving information about the robbery, Nam Từ Liêm District Police officers donated part of their wages to buy a new motorbike for Trâm, and were later able to track down the robbers.

The next day, she even received three more new motorbikes from people in the community.

"I am really surprised and touched to receive four new motorbikes,” she said. "However, I’d like to donate two of the new motorbikes to my colleagues in difficult circumstances."

Two trash collectors put garbage on a truck at the intersection of Giải Phóng Road and Đại Cồ Việt Road. — VNS Photo Trương Vị

“Previously, my husband and I shared a motorbike ... so I would like to keep only two motorbikes, one for me and one for my husband. I would like to thank the community who have helped me. Also I want to say that I will stop accepting gifts.

“There are many more people who need help more than me, especially during this pandemic.” 

Despite working alone at night, the trash collectors who devote their careers to the cleanliness of public streets will never be alone. — VNS

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