Fri, Apr 13, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Migrants clean up to end stereotypes

NEW HOME:Locals have been surprised and are grateful to the group of Indonesian workers who are collecting rubbish in Taichung in the hopes of integrating better

Staff writer, with CNA

Pindy, center, wearing white, an Indonesian worker who started a campaign to clean up an old district in Taichung, on Wednesday talks with fellow Indonesian workers.

Photo courtesy of Pindy

A group of Indonesian workers have launched a monthly event to clean up an old district in Taichung, in an effort to raise environmental awareness and reverse locals’ perceived stereotypical belief that migrant workers are not civic-minded.

“We want to find a way to contribute to society because Taiwan is our second home,” said Pindy, who started the campaign in March in the city’s Central District (中區), a decaying neighborhood that has suffered from pollution as urban development has sprawled westward in recent years.

She said the program, which takes place on the first Sunday of each month, brings together about 30 Indonesian volunteers to clean up the district, who assemble at ASEAN Square, a popular meeting place for Southeast Asian migrant workers.

Their trash-collecting route runs along the newly renovated Green River (綠川), a 6.1km historic canal that passes through central Taichung and ends in Taichung Park.

As the waterway has seen a surge in tourists due to exhibitions and light shows held there since February, Pindy said she and her team have helped keep public order by asking people not to litter or sit on the grass.

“Southeast Asians also like to keep their environment clean and tidy,” said the 34-year-old, who came to Taiwan eight years ago and found that it takes action to reverse the negative image people have of migrant workers.

The cleanup did not go very smoothly at the beginning as some people, regardless of their nationality, were upset at being corrected, she said.

However, over time, their campaign has become known by locals, who have helped spread the word.

“We were very surprised and thankful for the help from the Indonesian group, which improves the environment for everyone,” Taichung Water Resources Bureau deputy chief engineer Lin Li-hsiung (林豊雄) said.

Pindy said she hopes to reach out to migrant communities from other countries as well, so that they can work together to better integrate into Taiwanese society.

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