|Volunteers are at work to build Năm Nhiệm Bridge in Thới Hòa Hamlet in Thới An Ward, Ô Môn District, the Mekong Delta Province of Cần Thơ. — VNA/VNS Photo Thu Hiền|
CẦN THƠ — A group of farmers in the southern city of Cần Thơ have been raising funds to fix roads and build bridges for nearly two decades, helping improve their living conditions.
Hứa Văn Khoảnh, 73, from Thới An Ward in Ô Môn District was one of the first people to join the group when it began.
Now they have more than 20 members, most of them farmers and builders. They usually spend their free time fixing local roads and replacing old wooden bridges with concrete ones.
Khoảnh said that with the concrete bridges, children could go to school safely without worries when crossing rivers on simple bamboo footbridges.
“With the concrete bridges, an ambulance could better reach our residential areas, taking sick people to the hospital,” he said.
Khoảnh’s daughter, Hứa Thị Cẩm Tuyết said: "For the last few years, whenever people see me arrive their houses, they know that I will be asking for a donation to build a new bridge.
“At the beginning, it was unpleasant to ask for money but I get used to it after seeing people’s willing to donate,” she said, adding that some donated few tens of thousands of Vietnamese đồng, some gave hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese đồng and some even gave a few million.
Tuyết's responsibilities also include preparing meals and drinks for the volunteer builders.
Nguyễn Văn Bi, head of the volunteer group said that when it was set up in the late 1980s, to fix a part of the road, he had to drive a boat to An Giang province, asking for stones and bricks.
He and some other residents donated money to repair the road so that people could travel easily, he said.
Bi said: “Since then, whenever we see broken roads, we planned to fix.
“Government builds big roads and big bridges, we the residents help by building small ones.”
He said that he did not remember how many roads and bridges they had built or repaired.
“We don’t count the work. We just remember how happy people are when travelling on new bridges and new roads,” Bi added.
Since the beginning of this year, the have group built five bridges and laid asphalt on some parts of the roads.
Đào Minh Huy, chairman of Thới An Ward People’s Committee said that Bi’s group raised about VNĐ1.5-1.7 billion (US$ 65,000-74,000) yearly to improve the transport system in the ward.
Thanks to the Government’s investment and people’s contribution, 95 per cent of roads in the ward were concreted or asphalted and better bridges were built too, he said.
A resident Lê Thị Út who lives near the newly-built May 7 Co-operative bridge said that people were so happy.
The bridge is 80m long and 3.6m wide. It was built with a donation of VNĐ200 million from the city’s Youth Union and officially opened for traffic last month.
“We all supported Bi’s team to build the bridge. Some donated money, other people cooked meals for the builders and some worked with them,” Út said. — VNS