Samtse was cold and marshy yesterday. But for the 30 volunteers of Clean Bhutan, they had work to do.

After the 111th National Day celebrations on December 17 were over, the tendrelthang (astro turf) below the Samtse dzong was not itself anymore.

More than 30,000 people had strewn garbage all over the ground and the volunteers had almost given up. They didn’t and three hours later, they had the ground cleaned. The volunteers started their cleaning job right after the celebrations were over.

Around 3:30pm yesterday, they were packing the waste to load into a truck. The volunteers, all teacher trainees from Samtse College of Education (SCE) loaded a tipper truck for the second time, their last.

Clean Bhutan and its volunteers collected 414 kilograms (kg) of pet bottles and about 18.5kg of cans. They sold it across the border for more than Nu 7,000.

A third year teacher trainee, Sonam Wangmo had been busy since the activities for the build up to the National Day began.

“Other volunteers joined just on December 17 but my friends and I have been doing this for more than two weeks,” she said, explaining they also cleaned the Dhamdum Industrial Park after the food, fun, and fair festival was over.

Sonam Wangmo said people kept throwing garbage, while her team kept on cleaning. The teacher trainee said she is very satisfied to contribute to as a volunteer for the National Day.

Another volunteer, Ugyen Dorji, a third year student, said it was his responsibility as a citizen to clean up the place.

“But when we saw the ground after the celebration, we were totally devastated,” he said. “Somehow we managed.”

Considering such big national events, Ugyen Dorji said that organisers involved should provide bags to the spectators.

Clean Bhutan’s executive director, Nedup Tshering said his focus had always been to involve teacher trainees in such cleaning endeavours.

“I cannot reach all the schools but they can as they would be teachers,” he said.

If teachers were trained, there would not be need for him to be there in every big national event from next time, Nedup Tshering said.

He said that the volunteers were nervous to see the ground after the celebration. “But they managed,” he said, adding that the volunteers have worked day and night for the 111th National Day.

Rajesh Rai  | Samtse