The two lists you see above show the names of people in the village who contributed towards the construction of paved roads that now criss-cross the rural community of Dong Mai in Vietnam.
On our recent visit, we saw lists like these tacked up alongside new roads throughout the village.
When we arrived to begin work in Dong Mai a few years ago, none of the roads were paved. This was a major cause of the spread of pollution throughout the village.
Dong Mai was one of Vietnam’s toxic “craft” villages — thousands of communities that each focused on one particular industry. In Dong Mai, the speciality was the recycling of used lead-acid batteries. For years, almost every family in the village recycled batteries informally, without any precautions, often in backyards and kitchens. As a result, the village was severely contaminated with toxic lead.
With the unpaved roads, toxic lead in the soil was spread throughout the village every time someone walked, rode or drove on the dirt roads.
These new, paved roads are being constructed just as we are nearing completion of our cleanup of Dong Mai.
[Learn more the project: A Toxic “Craft” Village in Vietnam Cleans Up (VIDEO)]
Our work has included the decontamination of homes, the moving of industrial activity away from residential areas, and most recently, the construction of a changing room for workers who can clean up before they head home from work to prevent the spread of any contamination.
Above you can see the plaque commemorating the opening of the changing room. This plaque, along with the lists of names tacked up alongside each newly paved road, reveal the pride residents have in their clean community.
While we started the cleanup, the residents of Dong Mai are taking it to the next level by investing in their future.
It really does take a village.