Foreingers issue wake-up call by cleaning city streets

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Edward William Lippett collects trash from under a flyover in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City every morning at 6 a.m., not bothered by comments that he is crazy for doing a job that he's not paid for.


For more than two years, the 65-year-old African American goes out every morning with a broom, gloves and a wheelbarrow. He started with a short road from his home and has lengthened it every day, now reaching five kilometers.


He puts the garbage on his wheelbarrow and pushes it home, before opening his pho shop.


Some of his neighbors were angry when he brought garbage into their area, but have since started to give him a hand.


Lippett told local news website VnExpress in an interview that the garbage was dumped by trucks during the night. He suggested higher penalties and efforts to raise people's willingness to maintain public hygiene.


"The work of Lippett has awakened people in the neighborhood. We're Vietnamese and we cannot [keep our own area clean], leaving the job for a foreigner to do. It actually sounds rather embarassing," said a resident living next to Lippett.


Many streets in District 3 are cleaned by another foreign man, Oshima Mitutere, Japanese manager of the Mano Mano hair salon.


Mitutere arrived in Vietnam in June 2009 and for more than a year, everyday, he and his staff go down Truong Dinh and Vo Van Tan Streets to collect trash to put into the public trash bins.


He said he's not only found trash but many syringes which are dangerous for children if they pick them up to play. The syringes were thrown by drug addicts after use, he said.


Mitutere said the city is beautiful but has too much garbage in it. "If everyone joins hands, each doing a little to collect the trash, it would be different."


Many young and well-dressed people just feel free to throw away things from their hands such as water bottles or cigarettes packs, he said.


"I pick up the trash as a call for everyone to do it."


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