03 July 2008
by Thu M. Nguyen
Public space clean-up program, one of C4E’s key activities (Vuong Dinh Ha/C4E)Doan Viet Tien, C4E’s president, started the journey (Nguyen Minh Thu/C4E)Hanoi, Vietnam:
To someone caring about traveling in Vietnam, the concept of “xuyen Viet”, or journey through Vietnam, which enjoys an unmatched presence in literally every travel ad, may not sound like such an original idea. Nevertheless, once combined with a commitment to better the community, the old idea actually can bring in a lot of excitement.
This summer, a diverse group of 27 volunteers of Cycling for Environment C4E (a 6-month-old environmental group in Vietnam) are going on a special "xuyen Viet" journey on their bicycles, carrying environmental messages to each province on their route.
It was last Monday (June 23, 2008) when C4E members sat together with the top officials from Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment (VACNE) during a briefing on their project of "Cycling through Vietnam for the Environment". The room was green everywhere: it is the color of the group’s T-shirt. Today, the volunteers had to submit their applications for participating in the project, if they had chosen to do so. A young college student reached Dang Huong Giang, C4E’s vice president, first; then came a near-70-year-old, wrinkled, smiling old man who asked for extra forms for his
friends, in addition to the one for himself. The day culminated in nearly 70 people in the room raising their right hands and chanting: "Victory!"
The aim of the project is to urge the community to “kick the habit”, like this year’s World Environment Day slogan. Giang said, in a meeting for the volunteers who had signed up, that the project would center on three topics specifically: the bicycle as a green vehicle, reduction of plastic bag usage, and correct handling of wastes.
Volunteers of the project are expected to travel a total length of nearly 1900 km from Hanoi and to finish the journey at Ho Chi Minh City on August the 3rd, where they will organize an event called “Cycling Day”. In addition, along the journey at each province where they stop, the group will engage the locals in various environment-related activities, such as public space clean-up, cycling for environmental awareness, study of local environmental problems, etc. The project’s journal that details each day’s activities of the group is available at: dapxexuyenvietvimoitruong.sky.vn
A special feature of this project, according to C4E’s board of committee, is that the volunteers will bring along their own chopsticks and spoons for use throughout the trip. They explained that this is to express their endorsement of the recent Taiwan’s effort to phase out disposable chopsticks and encourage people to carry reusable ones instead.
Last Sunday (June 29, 2008), the group officially set off on its journey. Mr. Ngo Vi Tho, 73 years old, who had done 4 journeys through Vietnam himself, said "I decided to take part in this trip because I want to inspire the youth".