Woman’s determination cleans up city

For more than 30 years, Le Thi Hoa, Chairwoman of the Cong Nong Transportation Co-operative, has been working on cleaning up HCM City and improving the waste disposal system of the co-operative.

When Hoa was 26, her husband passed away, leaving her with two little children and a hard life before her. She was then forced to leave her homeland for HCM City, determining to do anything to earn money and feed her children.

During her first day looking for work in the city, she was lucky to meet the director of Tao Dan Park, who later gave her a job as a cleaner at the park.

When the city established waste collection teams, Hoa was assigned as the leader of o­ne team, which in 1982 became the Cong Nong Transportation Co-operative. She later became the chairwoman of the co-operative.

"I am assigned to the post for being a hard-worker. I do everything for the sake of the members of the co-operative and for the development of the co-operative," said Hoa.

During the 1976-1985 period, the co-operative experienced a hard time. Most of the waste transportation lorries were getting quite old and were unable to transport large amounts of waste. Many members left the co-operative.

Hoa said she could not stand to see the collapse of the co-operative, and decided o­n a daring plan to revive operations. She came to Singapore to learn about waste collection and transportation.

Returning, she told others what she had learnt and persuaded the remaining members to buy new or improve old lorries into specialised waste-pressing vehicles. Thanks to her efforts and the help of other members, the co-operative began transporting twice as much waste as before.

The idea not o­nly brought about better life for the co-operative’s members, but also helped ensure a cleaner environment in the city.

Hoa has set strict regulations for her staff to follow, including rules o­n dumping waste at fixed places. She also encouraged members to contribute up to VND4 billion (US$250,000) to upgrade and install a chemical spraying system at waste disposal points.

Currently, the co-operative has built two modern waste disposal points and 40 waste-pressing lorries, raising capacity to collecting and transporting 500 tonnes of waste each day, with each worker earning from VND1.8 to 2.5 million (US$110 to $156) each month.

"You cannot do this job if you feel ashamed. While cleaners are often looked down o­n by others, their work is vital," said Hoa.

"I always encourage other members to keep pace with the job, since that’s what makes our roads stay clean and beautiful, that helps us raise our children in a clean environment."

In the past thirty years of her life, Hoa has never enjoyed a New Year’s Eve at home with her family. She is always busy encouraging members to work hard, hoping to make the roads clean for the first day of the year.

Hoa said she hoped to find more funds to build a modern waste water treatment system and improve pay for the co-operative’s members.