City Story,Text/Photography by Lee Yi-hwa
Rain or shine, without compensation, they take their brooms and sweep. These are the well-respected community pioneers ---environmental volunteers.
When the dawn breaks, groups of cleaning workers are tending the environment for us on every street; when the garbage truck plays its music, each household takes bags of trash out so the workers can collect them. There are so many workers already. Why then, are there still some who would work, without pay, rain or shine, to safeguard our environment? Who are these people? These environmental volunteers devote time to their community, silently do environmental work, and focus on those areas where the usual city employees cannot reach.
Devoted Services: Images of the Environmental Volunteers
The establishment of teams of environmental volunteers is present in most of the subdivisions in Taichung City. Some teams are started by the subdivision chiefs, and some are initiated by the subdivision residents. Since there is not enough manpower at the Bureau of Environmental Protection, the city government cannot regularly send people to clean the streets. Assistance from the volunteers becomes crucial.
Take, for instance, the famous “Young Environmental Pioneers” of Beitun District’s Ping Zhen Subdivision. Although they are young, they are behind no one in their dedication to service. Every Saturday or Sunday, they follow their parents to clean up their community. In so doing, they learn to protect the environment and experience the joy of giving. The collective efforts of the volunteers have also won Ping Zhen Subdivision an award of excellence from the Environmental Protection Bureau.
65-year-old Wang Ching-bing and 81-year-old Hsu Ching-Yuan are residents of Beitun District’s PingDe Subdivision. For five years they have incessantly cleaned ChongDe Park and the surrounding TianJin Road and East WenChang Fifth Street. They are excellent environmental volunteers, and they have received recognition from their fellow citizens and the subdivision chief. For his service, Wang ChingBing has received an excellent environmental volunteer honor from the city government.
There are about 40 members in the volunteer team of XiTun District's Xian Subdivision. In addition to cleaning the streets the first week of the month, they work with the district office to regularly sanitize the living environment and kill insects and mosquitoes to prevent diseases such as the Dengue Fever---in short, to provide residents with a healthier living environment.
Led by Subdivision Chief Lai Shu-Shan, the volunteer team of NanTun District’s DaYie Subdivision does community-cleaning work the fourth Sunday of every month. There are more than 40 members of this team. The chief thinks that the cleanliness of the community is very important. Not only does it improve the image of the community, it also provides the residents with a healthier living environment. He thus highly values the designated day of cleaning. Mrs. Lin Ming-Huan, a part of the volunteer team and the head of her neighborhood, brings all five members of her family each time. Mrs. Lin expressed that she used to often participate in the public service events sponsored by her husband’s company; so now she naturally enjoys serving her own community. Her three sons have joined their parents in cleaning the environment since they were little, learning ways to maintain the community in good condition. Furthermore, they have been learning about service and developing an eagerness to help others. In addition, subdivision leader Mr. Huang Ming-Hui also said that among the members of their volunteer team are some Tzi-Chi volunteers, whose extra devotion to the community is especially moving.
Protecting Our Home: Join Us to Protect the Environment
Behind the railway station, in XinZhuang Subdivision of the Eastern District of Taichung, there are several night markets and cram schools with crowds of people and maddening traffic . It is therefore hard to maintain the environment there. To promote environmental protection, Subdivision Chief Hsu Liang-Ji focuses on the collection of kitchen waste. He leads 12 volunteers, known as the "Working Ants," who learn how to utilize kitchen waste and spread their knowledge to the other communities.
In addition, on the first Sunday of every month, the residents of Jing-Chun Subdivision in the Northern District of Taichung collect recycled resources for others who need them more. This achieves the goal of reducing the amount of trash. Mr. Lin Yu-Ci, as the ChangQing Subdivision Chief and its leader for community development, works very hard to protect the environment. His achievements are not limited to the separation of trash into different categories, but also include the establishment of an environmental protection fund, which provides money for emergencies when they happen.
Also, the Environmental Protection Bureau initiated the "Adopt a Road" plan, and ChangQing Subdivision adopted thirteen roads. It is hoped that more can participate in this program. The volunteer team of ChangQing Subdivision, under the leadership of Chief Lin, was elected as the most excellent volunteer team this year. This recognition is, of course, indisputable.
Protecting the quality of the living environment requires effort from each resident. To increase the effectiveness of the neighborhood volunteer teams, local officials often seek money and resources to promote environmental work within the community, or establish information centers, providing residents with information on environmental protection. Of course, participation from each resident is essential. With help from everyone, the community will soon become cleaner and more beautiful.