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Monday, April 13, 2009

The Street Cleaners of Miri





Whether you are in Sibu or Miri you are bound to meet these cleaning ladies on the streets. They work from early morning till night. Street cleaners are given their specific areas to clean and so they work very hard in order to achieve a high grade for their assessment. But bless their hearts Miri streets according to most reports in the newspapers are the cleanest in Sarawak!

This street cleaning lady knows how to protect herself from the hot sun with two hats - a cloth and leaf hat made by herself over another cloth hat which is made in China. She is over 60 years old and has been serving as a street cleaning for many years in Miri.


This is her full work gear : a recycled plastic basket which she can pull behind her and a palm leaf broom which she made herself. This kind of broom is very popular for street cleaning and apparently is so environmentally friendly that it does not cost a cent to make but only her time. Every thing she uses to make this kind of broom is from nature and therefore very biodegradable.

This is her friend who hails from Kanowit and together they form a team .According to her she did not receive much education because her longhouse was too far away from any school and her parents did not know enough to send her to school. She said it was a real pity because she could have studied very hard.

She is repairing her broom for more sweeping after their packed lunch under a friendly and shady angsana tree. They bring their own rice packed in plastic containers. It is usually cold and this reminds them of their days when they planted paddy in the hill regions of Sarawak.




This is group photo of three of the four ladies. The oldest is about 65 (she cannot really tell how old she is and she was born probably around the Japanese occupation) They are usually well covered from head to toe.

All of them have migrated from Sibu or Kanowit and are staying with their relatives who have found jobs in the oil and gas industry or in the construction field. Together all of them work and chip in to make the economics of living in the city viable. Going back to their longhouse would mean a harder life with very little cash and land that has not been productive because of shortage of labour. They do have some kind of job satisfaction because they are together as a group and they can see the nice city lights . Most importantly they enjoy urban facilities like shops and hospitals.

Perhaps they might go back to their land eventually when there is no work in the city. Who knows they might be lucky in buying numbers?

We must really do our part to keep our town or city clean. We must never throw rubbish out of our car to dirty the roads. We actually should stop littering! Every town in Sarawak has to employ more than 50 cleaners to clean up our mess actually.

18 memories:

Superman said...

I did my part. I always throw the rubbish in the dustbin. Hope more people will do that to keep the city clean. The SMC should have people patrol in the city and give summon to those who throw rubbish anywhere. But SMC need to provide more dustbin in the city public area as well to help to improve the situation. For example in Sibu night market, you can hardly find a dustbin there and people and stall owners all throw rubbish on the floor. That is tourist attraction and it is really bad impression for tourists.

RW FINE ART said...

i HEART this entry.
not many people care about these cleaning people. but the reality is without them there will be rubbish everywhere because we keep throwing. ive always seen people throwing rubbish while they are driving. got to from WT.

天鵝江畔 said...

They are greater than the YBs in our society. Last August I saw they gathered in front of a Public toilet in the town center reading bible......

sarawakiana said...

Hi Superman
It is good that many people are more Earth conscious nowadays. Flash floods often lead to frantic cleaning the next day. What do people find? Lots of plastic bottles and bags...
I agree that dustbins must be placed strategically for people to use.
We really have to keep our place clean.

sarawakiana said...

RW FINE ART - thanks for your HEART.
These cleaning ladies are important to us. I remember we used to leave a bottle of wine or two during Christmas for our dustbin men when we lived in overseas. They not only emptied our dustbins but called out a clear and loud Good Morning every morning!! They never threw our dustbins with a bang!!
Yeah lots of people do throw rubbish from their cars and very obviously even from Mercedes when they should know better!!

sarawakiana said...

We must support our cleaning ladies by smiling at them and wishing them "Good Day"!!

A few words to them also help.

Bengbeng said...

i am ashamed to say i dont notice them before until today when i read yr post

sarawakiana said...

Look out for them in Sibu. They are there! Under a big tree or near a public toilet.

Share with us a few pictures of them sweeping the road. We are lucky we have them.

Daniel Yiek said...

The unsung heros of Sarawak. Sarawak towns are cleaner than West Malaysia.

sarawakiana said...

Daniel
Yes they are indeed the Unsung Heroes of Sarawak.
Many of these have served the people for a long time and yet not a "badge" has been awarded to them.
It is really a pity that our society does not "reward" for example the traditional Night Soil man or the lowly paid security guard who gave his life looking after a bank!
May be that's just what our society is like today....

chung said...

What I like about them is their big smiles. You smile and they smile back.
Sometimes you donnot have dat kind of communication in air con offices with well trained people!! What inhibitions some people have I cannot really understand.
A syabas to these hardworking female labour...I see they save hard and don't waste anything.

justin said...

Hi It is nice to know so many people are sympathetic with these ladies who wor so hard for the cleanliness of our resort city.
Hopefully they have ther luck too.
Syabus.

sarawakiana said...

Hi Justin
Hope more and more people will learn the importance of not polluting our environment like throwing the transparent plastic wrappers into the rivers and simply throwing the mineral water out of their cars!
Our drains need to be clean at all times so that they won't be clogged.
I notice we have a new breed of labourers who clean drains in Miri only!!

bliss said...

I wonder how many people in Miri actually care about our environment especially our streets...Look at the padang after a sports day or family day!! The elders are not setting a good example to the young ones...

Imagine this: for convenience a mother ask her son to piss by the roadside - right next to the car.

pennylane said...

this is so far the best post... people learn a lot from this kind of writing.

sarawakiana said...

Dear Bliss

Thanks for your caring comments. yeah...we must all keep our surroundings clean...otherwise lose face..and lose life even worse.

sarawakiana said...

Pennylane
Thanks for your compliments. It is not often I become a journalist and walk the streets!!!
I have always been told "don't be conspicuous...you are not a tourist!!" You know some people get so embarrassed by my behaviour....I feel like moving to Inner Mongolia or Northern AFrica where there will be plenty to write about....heheh ...sometimes...

durian said...

i wonder what brings them all the way from Kanowit/Sibu to Miri; do they have childrens and are they are Kanowit/Sibu too..

I was at Sibu's market last few days buying pineapple. we bought 2 pineapples from a thin Malay lady. I was chatting with her as she helped to de-skin the pineapple and remove the black 'spots'. She said she is from Bintangor, and stays in rented room in Sibu, and goes back to Bintangor every few weeks. A look into her old face, there's a feeling of air of sadness.

 

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