Viet Nam News
HÀ TĨNH — Age was no hurdle for 73-year-old Bùi Thị Thu and her 80-year-old husband Đinh Công Vượng, who despite the progression of senility were determined to contribute towards the upgrade of infrastructure in their poor neighbourhood in central Hà Tĩnh Province.
Thu and Vượng spent more than three years collecting money for the newly constructed 600m road in the province’s Phúc Trạch Commune.
In early 2014, the couple initiated the construction of the concrete road to give the village road a better surface. However, they were both teachers before they retired decades ago, and their savings of VNĐ20 million (US$881) was insufficient for the work.
“We found commuting on the muddy road inconvenient and wanted it to be upgraded with a concrete layer,” Thu said. “At first, when we came up with the idea, we had only 20 million đồng saved from our pension, and we thought every local could help."
Thu then began walking around to mobilise money, while Vượng convinced the locals to give up their land to expand the road.
“First, I talked to my neighbours to get their consent, then I got the seal of the local authorities in the petition that called for cash donation.” Thu said, adding that the authorities’ seal helped to protect her from being accused of cheating.
“Every local was encouraged to contribute, depending on their economic situation and willingness,” she said. At the same time, Thu made the calls for donation to villagers who lived far from home in other localities in the country.
Late last year, two other villagers volunteered to join Thu and Vượng to make a group and help collect money. Earlier this year, the group got enough to buy rock and sand. Thu then knocked the door of the People’s Committee of Hương Khê District, which included the commune, for the supply of cement.
The committee agreed to supply cement, bought from the local budget allocation for upgrading the rural infrastructure.
By September, the construction on a 600m long and 3m wide road was nearly completed, with a total capital of VNĐ200 million ($8,810), collected through the mobilisation efforts of the old couple.
“We are happy with the new road. Earlier, we had to commute on a road that was rough during summer and muddy during the rainy days, but the tough times are over this year, thanks to the efforts of the Thu couple,” said Hồ Thị Hiếu, a local.
“Without their efforts, we cannot imagine our commuting would be as easy as it is today,” she added.
Trần Quốc Khánh, the commune’s chairman, said the contribution by Thu and Vượng had helped to release the burden on infrastructure development in the commune.
Thu and Vượng agreed that the biggest obstacle they faced during the mobilisation process was the scepticism of the locals. “Some blamed us for making use of mobilisation, while others termed us beggars,” Thu said, adding that as she could not ride a bicycle, she would walk around during the time to collect the donation money.
However, the old couple do not mind and they are pleased with their work. Currently, they are growing herbal medicine plants in their garden, expecting to supply free medicinal plants to the locals. “We will do anything that is good for our community, never mind our age or the hostile attitude of others,” said Vượng. — VNS