Keeping your neighbourhood clean is not just the responsibility of the local government but also of the residents who reside there. And while many debate about whose responsibility it is, one man in Meghalaya has taken the task upon himself to make his hometown Shillong litter-free. Nangjop Thabah, 24, recently started a mission #NoLitterShillong and single-handedly began removing garbage thrown on to the streets, lanes and drains in his neighbourhood.
With the initiative #AdoptaNeighbourhood, he urged more people to join the cause. And what started as a small pet project, now has become a movement that is sweeping across the city and scores of people have joined in making their locality a cleaner place.
On June 26, Thabah took up the cause to clean his own neighbourhood, Jaiaw Laitdom, along with his young neighbour, a fellow volunteer and his sister documenting the whole process. He shared the photos of them picking up trash and depositing it in big bin bags about was upset when many people enquired him about the agenda behind his selfless act.
Describing his experience of the first day on Facebook, the journalism graduate wrote, “What followed throughout the course of the drive were folks looking along at us with quiet disdain to questions such as “Phi leh aiu?” (What are you doing?) to more ridiculous ones like, “Phi ioh Scheme aiu na ka Sorkar”? (Which Scheme are you getting from the government?) Apparently, one can’t do a good deed for the local community without an agenda now.” However, he vowed to remain undeterred and promised to continue his work.
“I shall continue this effort tomorrow and the day after that to other neighbourhoods of Shillong with a (cynical) belief that people shall realize the value of cleanliness and that littering simply isn’t cool,” he wrote, hoping that more like-minded people would come forward and do the same in their neighbourhood. And he wasn’t proved wrong as his post went viral.
In just about a week, with a little help from social media, Thabah has inspired many people. Acknowledging the online success of his story he urged people not to make “this initiative a mere publicity stunt but rather work together” and put “hands in the dirt (quite literally)”.
He also analysed the waste and found that 70 per cent of the litter collected were packets and wrappers of chips and ice-cream, hence, urging teachers and parents to teach schoolkids the importance of keeping the neighbourhood clean and that “every micro action counts.”
Now, many others from various universities, cafés and organisations have pitched in and cleaned various junctions in the city, from the tourist centre Police Bazar to Nohwet Village citizens have supported his cause and have turned #NoLitterShillong into a movement and Thabah have made his ‘yellow latex gloves’ a symbol of his social initiative.