How one man made a difference to keeping a commune clean

By Hoang Tao   September 30, 2019 | 10:55 pm PT
How one man made a difference to keeping a commune clean
Dinh Ty points into the Rao Con Canal that is made clean thanks to his effort. Photo by VnExpress/Quang Ha.
For the last three months Dinh Ty has spent his weekends rowing a boat along a canal in his hometown in Quang Binh Province.

He does not look for fish.

Instead, carrying a stick with a net attached at one end, he fishes out garbage, one piece at a time, from the water.

After his cleanup is over, Ty, 35, drives his motorbike around a market nearby, calling out to people not to litter the canal.

The Rao Con Canal in Nhan Trach Commune, Bo Trach District, used to be where he played as a kid. Now, returning after living and working abroad for more than a decade, he says he cannot recognize it any more.

He went to Taiwan in 2005, Germany in 2009 and South Korea in 2013 before returning home in June 2019 to settle down.

His first impression upon coming back was the seeming affluence of the commune, where multistory houses and other buildings had sprung up.

But he was soon to be disappointed by the pollution and trash that was everywhere: The Rao Con Canal’s now-blackish water stank and was full of garbage, while many streets did not have garbage bins as a result of which rubbish ended up on the street or in the canal.

Ten of his nieces and nephews came to visit him and his family around that time from Germany. Every afternoon they would all go to the beach nearby, but none dared enter the water because of the trash in it.

Ty decided to take action. He asked his family to join him to collect trash, but he was firmly told not to get into such "public nonsense."

But he did not give up. He took his idea to local authorities and got the green light from them.

"I spent VND40 million ($1,722) of my own money to buy garbage cans and put them around the commune, and hired dredgers to pick trash from the river bed," he says.

Besides spending every weekend morning fishing garbage from Rao Con Canal, he picks trash from the beach whenever he can.

He also sought permission from the local authorities to set up dozens of billboards that exhort people not to litter but throw trash into cans so that Nhan Trach Commune can be "clean, green and beautiful."

Locals say he sometimes stands for hours in places where people usually litter and tells them not to do so.

Dinh Ty stands by a billboard he sets up to call local residents in Nhan Trach Commune to put garbage in trash can for a green, clean and beautiful environment. Photo coutersy of Quang Binh Provinces online newspaper.

Dinh Ty with a board he puts up by a bridge exhorting people in Nhan Trach Commune to put garbage only in trash cans so that the environment is "green, clean and beautiful." Photo courtesy of Quang Binh online newspaper.

Thanks to his efforts, both the canal and commune are much improved. Seeing what he does benefits the community, many locals have joined in and even raised VND60 million for his work. He has used some of the money to install 120 more trash cans around the commune.

Le Thi Duy, a local woman, says, "The commune was really dirty before Ty came back, but now, thanks to him, things have become better; so we all help him."

Pham Manh Hung, the commune's deputy chairman, says: "With the commune not having much money to deal with garbage, what Ty has done should be highly appreciated. Thanks to him, public awareness of environment protection has improved."

His wife and children understand and support what he does despite the fact there are days when he leaves home early in the morning and does not return until sunset.

Ty says he will continue to fight for a clean environment in Nhan Trach and seek financial support from all possible sources to ensure he has the resources for it.

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