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.