|Đặng Hồng Thêm is a sanitation worker at Sơn La City’s Urban Environment Company. She has been doing this job for 18 years. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyết
SƠN LA — Đặng Hồng Thêm, 42, a sanitation worker at Sơn La City’s Urban Environment Company in the northern mountainous province of Sơn La, has started her working day at 4:30 am for the past 18 years.
While the city still sleeps, Thêm and her colleagues collect waste and clean up local streets and alleys.
She is the head of a group of sanitation workers who cover seven wards and five communes in the city. She says the morning shift runs from 4:30 am to 10:30 am and the afternoon shift from 4:30 pm to 11:30 pm.
Her rota is one morning shift on one day, then an evening shift the next day.
Furthermore, on the 15th and 28th of the month, she and her colleagues pick rubbish from local rivers and streams, she adds.
“It’s hard work,” she says.
"Sometimes, when the garbage truck breaks down, we must work until 2 am the next day to collect all the waste."
On the longer alleys, some of which are several hundred metres long, they must go to every household to collect waste.
However, they always make sure they don't leave any rubbish behind, she says.
Usually, they collect two or three tonnes of waste each shift, she says.
“We still have to work outdoors, even when it is rainy, to keep the streets and alleys clean,” she says.
“Although we face the risk of skin or infectious diseases, I still love my job - it helps the city where I live remain clean, green and more beautiful day after day.”
Thêm also contacts the heads of hamlets and villages, to disseminate information on how to classify and dispose of waste correctly, without harming the environment.
This contributes to changing habits and raising public awareness of environmental protection.
In 2017, she suggested the company develop a model of garbage collection with mini-trucks in the alleys. In the past, sanitation workers had to jingle a bell to notify local people that sanitation workers were nearby. Then the waste would be transported to a garbage truck.
Under the new model, a mini-truck is installed with a loudspeaker, disseminating the time and method of garbage collection to raise people's awareness about environmental protection.
The new model began in 2017 and has helped shorten the time of collecting waste and improve efficiency.
Bùi Thị Kim Oanh, head of Residential Group 3 of Tô Hiệu Ward, Sơn La City, says that she feels very satisfied with the local environmental workers.
Whether it's sunny or rainy, they are still hard-working and dedicated to keeping the streets clean and beautiful, she says.
Thanks to her efforts at work, Thêm won the “Golden Broom” 2021 award from the Việt Nam Urban and Environment Magazine in January, 2022. The title honours outstanding environmental sanitation workers across the country.
After 18 years of working to make the environment cleaner and greener, Thêm says she has always been aware of her duties and responsibilities to make the city known for its clean environment, as well as the beautiful landscape of the northern mountains. VNS