Water was not the only thing people flung with reckless abandon during Thingyan 2018. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Yangon to celebrate the Buddhist holiday, but the festival that washes away the previous year’s bad deeds was not able to wash away the trash that piled up as revelers ate, drank, and partied their way through the city.
Central gathering points like Mahabandoola Park were acutely affected by the lack of trash cans, the lack of personnel to empty the few trash cans that did exist, and Myanmar people’s willingness to deposit their trash on nearly any public surface, the Irrawaddy reported.
Some decided to take action against the trash problem, including the actor, U Kyaw Thu. Along with a group of youth volunteers, U Kyaw Thu walked through the streets of Yangon “in the hot sun” picking up trash and offering the public a free lesson in civility. In a subsequent Facebook post, the actor thanked the volunteers and implored more young people to get involved.
Sons and daughters, this is not something that is shameful.
Sons and daughters, it is also not shameful to hold a sign on busy roads.
Sons and daughters, it is also not shameful to pick up trash on roads with lots of foot and vehicle traffic.
Sons and daughters, helping during a sad occasion is not the only way to earn merit.
Sons and daughters, providing medical help is also not the only way to earn merit.
Sons and daughters, leading by example and taking it upon yourself to practice good discipline and teaching people good habits is extremely noble and meritorious.
Like you, sons and daughters, I, the actor U Kyaw Thu, also walked down a big street holding a sign that read “Clean your own trash” in the hot sun, causing many people to cross the street to come read it.
Today, I bow in respect to all you young men and women who came out and performed these good deeds with me and picked up trash.
The post has been shared over 14,000 times since the end of the holiday.
Most people received the actor’s message positively and expressed support for the clean-up project, arguing that people’s messy habits are the main obstacle to a clean city.
Others pointed out that the change in habits must be met by government action.
Still others showed what they were doing in their communities to effect change on this issue.