Among many minor activities going on during this Tsechu in Tsirang, there is a group of students working to make sure there is no garbage around.

They are students of Damphu Central School and Damphu Lower Secondary School, who are members of the Young Volunteers in Action (YVIA), a programme that provides platform for students to volunteer during public gatherings and programmes that requires volunteers.

For the last three days during the Tsirang Tsechu, these young volunteers have been involved in collecting and segregating garbage. They also help Dessups control crowd.

There are 33 volunteers from Damphu Central School and 36 volunteers from Damphu LSS. At least 28 scouts are also involved in the cleanliness initiative.

These students arrive at the Dratshang around 6am before the crowd begins emerging and they are the last to leave. After the crowd has left in the evening, the volunteers go around collecting paper pieces, plastic and bottles in the surrounding of the Dratshang and below until the forest check point. Then all the waste is dumped at one location and segregated. Pet bottles are crushed and packed in sacks, so are carton boxes

Student coordinator of YVIA, Yam Bahadur Bista, said that while pet bottles, carton boxes, tins and cans will be sold to scrape dealers in town, plastic and food wastes will be handed over to the municipality after the Tsechu.

Yam Bahadur Bista said that although they wanted to hand over all the waste to the municipality after segregation, it was learned that the municipality will mix the segregated waste together and dump in the dumping yard, about five kilometers away from Damphu town.

On the first day, the volunteers collected at least a truckload of waste, which was sent to the municipality. Waste collection on the third day, trebled. The total waste collection was 43 sacks of crushed pet bottles, over 100kg cartoon boxes, and about 35 sacks of plastic waste.

“Besides waste collection, we also make sure the public toilet is clean and usable,” Yam Bahadur, said.

With the money the volunteers earn from selling the waste to scrape dealers, they are planning to help other fellow students who are from poor family backgrounds.

Last year, this group of volunteers also helped an elderly villager build a hut.

Nirmala Pokhre | Tsirang