All photos by Nada Badawi
Shortly before sunset yesterday, about a dozen cleaners in Qatar were seen relaxing and lying down on the green stretch of grass next to the Sheraton Doha on the Corniche.
The reason: the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning had informed them that a group of young people would be taking over their role for two hours.
Ten people turned up to do the cleaning, sporting yellow vests with “Help Them” written in Arabic on the back, as part of a community-building exercise. They were joined by several families hanging out in the area, who were urged to help by a mascot dressed in a wig, mask and rubber-made green arms.
Mirna Mahmoud, a 17-year-old Egyptian expat, was the youngest organizer involved, in a team of about 10 people up to 27 years old. Some are working full-time, while others are students in high school and university.
Mahmoud told Doha News that the campaign only began last Friday, when her group decided to compete in a program called “Participate for a Better Life.”
The program, which is being held by Al Asmakh Charity Foundation and Tomoh For Voluntary Work Management, aims to promote and encourage community development initiatives by urging young people in Qatar to find a problem in the community and suggest solutions to solve it.
Many of the initiatives are supported by prominent government-based associations, NGOs and corporations, Al Watan reports.
In the case of the cleanup, the project caught the attention of the MMUP, which has been running an awareness campaign about public littering.
Mahmoud said her group chose cleanups as their idea because it was “relevant and beneficial” to the community and could be easily conducted in under two weeks.
“We thought what better way to relate to the cleaners’ problems than through assuming their roles? Especially that we find it unreasonable for anyone to bend down their backs and pick up someone else’s trash all day everyday,” she added.
Cleaning up the public area helped raise awareness about not littering in the area, and hopefully got kids to think about what they do with their trash, Mahmoud said, adding:
“The kids are at a very young age where they can easily absorb the importance of cleaning up after one’s self, unlike adults who can easily forget about it in two days.”
Working with Al Baladiya
Speaking to Doha News, MMUP employee Asma Al Sahli, who is supervising the campaign, said the ministry has cleared the team to hold four public events.
But before that, the team attended a workshop where they learned how to assume the role of public cleaners and communicate with the public.
As part of the partnership with the ministry, Al Sahli said that the team of organizers has been asked to come up with ways to improve cleaners’ working conditions.
“We designed a body that personified a public cleaner and we dressed him up in a white uniform with several pockets, sunglasses, a head-fan and we’re almost done with it to submit it to the ministry,” Mahmoud said.
On Twitter, several people have been discussing the cleanup experience under the hashtag #شاركنا_وخلك_مكانه (Join us and put yourself in his place).
Translation: “The weather temperature + the time spent standing and walking on our feet + bending down and getting back up = has reassured us that the job of the cleaner is not something to be taken lightly.”
Following the cleanup, a schoolgirl at Amna Bin Wahab Secondary Independent School said:
“We now know how the cleaners feel and what they go through, especially at this terrible weather.”
A Qatari woman who came to the Corniche with her husband and two children added, “It is an excellent initiative and I commend the youths for starting such a wonderful campaign.”
The campaign concludes tonight with a cleanup at Hyatt Plaza, from 5pm to 7pm.