Truong Minh, a resident of Chau Me Hamlet, spent his life savings on the plant of his own free will, while his family still lived on a modest income.
His thoughtfulness has brought him a lot of praise from the local authorities and much admiration from the local community, which makes him happy and proud.
The 39-year-old smiled and said that some people also believed he was a bit crazy. “They often call me ‘madman’ half in jest, half in earnest.”
Over three years ago, rubbish thrown away by local households was creating a serious headache for the community. Year after year, the waste continuously piled up everywhere, causing a lot of environmental pollution.
“The problem was constantly discussed by the authorities and local community. However, nothing ever changed. Subsequently, both the people and the authorities resigned themselves to remaining powerless in the matter,” said the communal Party Committee secretary Pham Thanh Binh.
Being a local resident, Minh could understand their predicament, so he asked them to let him find a solution.
After many sleepless nights, he decided to send a petition and a detailed plan to the district, to ask for investment in waste collection, treatment and recycling in the area.
“It was essential to build a small sized waste treatment plant, and equip a truck to collect the waste and take it to the plant, which was what I and the local residents hoped for. I carefully weighed up the pros and cons before sending in the petition. The waste in the area was mainly organic, so treating it was not that difficult,” he said.
However, he failed to persuade the local authorities to allocate any money.
Not giving up on his dream of having a waste treatment plant in his hometown, Minh asked his wife to lend him VND200 million (US$9500) as he was so determined to build the plant.
“The money had taken us more than half our lives to accumulate. When my husband asked me for the money, my face was white with rage. Later, I knew that his deeds always matched his words so I decided to give him the money,” said Minh’s wife.
The plant started to operate after taking three months to build, and it was said that Minh’s spiritual child had been born.
“Minh said that he would build a waste treatment plant in our commune. We doubted him because he did not have a lot of money. When we saw the plant under construction, we were as happy as the day is long and really appreciated his concern,” said 58-year-old resident Nguyen Tan Hao.
According to Pham Thanh Binh, the plant treats 70-80 cubic metres of waste each week, which has had a huge impact on environmental protection in the area.
However, many problems still lay ahead for the crazy man, as his family were still poor and continued to live in misery after the plant was fully operational.
The cost of hiring the trucks to collect the waste was very expensive, so Minh moved heaven and earth to borrow money to buy a truck.
“I was resigned to borrowing VND260 million ($13,000) at a high interest rate after all the local banks refused my loan. At the moment, I still have to pay over VND2 million ($95) a month,” he said.
After seeing the benefits that the plant was bringing, the communal People’s Committee directed local households to contribute VND10,000 (50 US cents) each month so that the plant could continue to operate.
However, many local residents refused to pay because many people believed that the plant was built to make a profit.
“At present, about half of the 4,500 local households refuse to pay any money. The local authorities are conducting a pollution awareness campaign and focusing in on local residents, so that the plant can cover its operating costs as well as helping Minh’s family with their difficulties”, said Binh.