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Disabled artisans transform waste into wonder in south-central Vietnam

Disabled artisans transform waste into wonder in south-central Vietnam

Wednesday, June 12, 2024, 16:12 GMT+7
Disabled artisans transform waste into wonder in south-central Vietnam
The Recycling Garden is filled with recycled products from its members. Photo: Lam Thien / Tuoi Tre

Individuals with congenital disabilities residing at a community center in Binh Dinh Province, south-central Vietnam have transformed discarded items like rags, cardboard, and used plastic bottles into beautiful, practical objects through their skilled craftsmanship.

Situated in Phuoc My Commune, approximately 20km west of the center of the provincial capital city of Quy Nhon, the Recycling Garden is overseen by Nguyen Thi Thanh Nga, a 63-year-old and the head of the Nguyen Nga Disability Association.

The garden is a gathering place for 20 members from 13 to 30 years old, all with disabilities trained in sewing, embroidery, and computer skills. 

Nga explains that she established the garden to provide a space for people with disabilities to gather, play, and learn. 

Her motivation stemmed from a desire to alleviate the sadness and challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in their daily lives.

“Observing the stream surrounding the garden inundated with litter, my members and I discussed ways to recycle this waste, aiming to contribute to environmental protection efforts,” said Nga.

Nguyen Thi Thu, a 20-year-old member of the Recycling Garden, shared that each day, members divide tasks and navigate their wheelchairs to collect trash.

“As people observe us collecting trash on the streets, they often approach us,” Thu shared. 

“Some rush home to fetch rags, cardboard, bottles, and other items for us. 

“We take those discarded materials and brainstorm ways to repurpose them.”

The recycled products vary based on the color, shape, and size of the rags, paperboard, and used plastic bottles.

“We’ll sew large fabric pieces into aprons or bags, while smaller, brightly colored pieces will be fashioned into patterns on those items,” Thu said. 

“Each product is a unique creation, never replicated.”

Phan Huynh Anh Toan, along with other members of the Recycling Garden, exhibits keen enthusiasm for crafting exquisite toy drum sets, toy musical instruments, and toy cars from discarded paper pieces.

“These products serve as decorative items,” Toan said.

“After assembling the paper pieces into distinctive shapes through drawing, cutting, and pasting, we proceed to paint and add colors. 

“Creative individuals, particularly those fond of drawing, contribute their innovative ideas. 

“Passion drives us all.”

While not a conventional tourist destination, the Recycling Garden warmly welcomes visitors at all times. 

People of all ages, from adults to children, are enthralled and amazed by the creativity and resourcefulness of the Recycling Garden members.

“As I walked in, I was fascinated by the kitchen utensils like aprons, tablecloths, and gloves,” Nguyen Thu Trang, a tourist in Ho Chi Minh City, expressed her admiration.

“Each item is uniquely charming. 

“I never imagined they were crafted from discarded fabric scraps. 

“Everyone here is truly admirable.”

Similarly, Tran Thu Ly from Quy Nhon City shared her deep admiration for the garden’s members.

“This garden is truly enchanting, inhabited by remarkable individuals,” Ly said. 

“Each person’s contribution is both meaningful and esthetically pleasing. 

“I believe this is a place worth visiting and learning from.”

To promote and instill a green, sustainable lifestyle within local communities, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, in collaboration with the Vietnam Packaging Recycling Organization (PRO Vietnam) and other affiliated units, is hosting the ‘Green Regeneration’ contest. 

As part of the Green Vietnam 2024 project, which launched on April 20, the contest serves as a platform for both domestic and international readers to showcase actions, initiatives, and innovative products aimed at recycling, reducing emissions, and safeguarding the environment, all in the pursuit of a greener Vietnam.

Individual participants are encouraged to share their practices and products for recycling, reusing, and water and energy conservation. 

Additionally, community teams and groups are invited to present their efforts to clean and enhance their communities. 

Likewise, businesses are encouraged to showcase their experiences with sustainable production, circular production processes, and eco-friendly products crafted from recycled materials, all aimed at reducing emissions and promoting environmental stewardship.

The contest is meant to promote the development of green urban areas, lifestyles, tourism, transportation, energy usage, workplaces, consumption patterns, and other aspects of sustainable development. 

Evaluation criteria for submissions include feasibility, potential for growth, practicality in daily life, applicability for individuals and businesses, economic and social efficacy, and the degree of contribution to environmental preservation and national sustainable development.

Entries will be assessed by an expert panel comprised of leading professionals and businesses in the fields of environment and circular economy. 

The panel’s evaluation will carry 80 percent of the total score, while reader votes will account for the remaining 20 percent. 

Readers can cast their votes awarding stars, hearts, and likes to the entries, with the stars worth 15 points each, the hearts three points each, and the likes two points apiece.

Rules of the 'Green Regeneration' contest:

1. Eligibility: The contest is open to domestic and foreign residents currently residing and working in Vietnam.

2. Entry submission: Entries can be submitted by individuals or groups. The representative of the group must submit the entry with the agreement of all members.

3. Content requirements:

   - Products and ideas presented in the competition must be conceived and developed within Vietnam.

   - Entries can take various formats such as articles, images, video clips, PowerPoint presentations, or graphics.

   - Articles must not exceed 1,200 words, include more than 15 photos, or have a video clip longer than five minutes.

   - Entries can be presented in either Vietnamese or English.

4. Description criteria: Entries should comprehensively describe the product, detailing the implementation process from material resourcing to design, recycling, and the product’s life cycle. Additionally, the entries must evaluate the practical application of the product and its technology for individuals, consumers, and society.

5. Originality: Contest entries must not have been previously published on any media or social platforms.

6. Usage rights: Tuoi Tre and associated entities retain the right to utilize contest entries in their publications, subject to discussion with the author if deemed necessary.

7. Disqualification: Contest organizers reserve the right to reject entries that are deemed inappropriate or violate contest regulations.

8. Submission process: Readers and contestants can access the Green Vietnam page of Tuoi Tre to submit entries and stay updated on contest-related information.

9. Selection process: Entries that passed the preliminary round will be selected for publication on the Green Vietnam page of Tuoi Tre and eligible for royalties.

10. Final decision: The organizing committee reserves the right to make the final decision regarding all aspects of the contest.

11. Entry period: From May 15 to August 15, 2024.

Prize structure for the 'Green Regeneration' contest:

Monthly prizes:

   - 1 prize of VND5 million (US$196) awarded to a typical contest entry each month

   - 1 prize of VND1 million ($39) determined by reader votes each month

Final prizes:

   - 1 special prize from the Green Vietnam project advisory board

   - 1 first prize valued at VND30 million ($1,180)

   - 2 second prizes valued at VND20 million ($786) each

   - 3 third prizes valued at VND10 million ($393) each

   - 5 consolation prizes valued at VND5 million each

   - 10 prizes determined by reader votes, each worth VND1 million

Prizes include cash, Tuoi Tre Star rewards, and gifts from the organizers.

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Bao Anh - Lam Thien / Tuoi Tre News

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