Garbage Collectors Are Frontliners Too
Thiwesh Lechuman (front) has been working as a garbage collector with Alam Flora since June last year. -NSTP/EFFENDY RASHIDWhenever the word "frontliners" is mentioned, it likely brings to mind images of doctors, nurses and police officers going about their duties to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
But a frontliner does not necessarily have to be in uniform.
Thiwesh Lechuman, 19, from Cheras, has been working as a garbage collector since June last year with Alam Flora.
His mother, Valli Supan Ponachi, 47, has been a road sweeper with the company for 30 years.
"My mother told me that the company was hiring garbage collectors. I did not think twice and went for the interview.
"My father, Lechuman, died in 2012 when I was only 10. My mother's humble earnings as a sweeper put us through secondary school.
"This is what influenced me to take up this job, apart from the fact that it is an honest living.
"Most people may not notice us or realise what we do and how it benefits society."
Thiwesh said garbage collecting was a physically demanding job, apart from having to endure all types of stench.
"But I have gotten used to it. I am happy and proud to keep our surroundings clean. I will press on to get the job done," said Thiwesh, whose only sibling, an elder brother, works in the construction sector.
Thiwesh said another reason he joined Alam Flora as a garbage collector was that the job offered overtime shifts, a year-end bonus and medical coverage.
"I am pleased to share that I have not been on the receiving end of insults or bullying. My family and friends are supportive and praise me for not being ashamed of doing such a job.
"I am grateful to have a job at a time when many Malaysians have become jobless."
He said his mother inspired him to work hard.
"Some people ask me what keeps me going, what motivates me to be able to do such a job where I have to deal with other people's waste.
"My answer is always the same. My mother inspires me and motivates me to work and be thankful for what we have even though it may not be much."
Thiwesh said his colleagues treat him well and they look out for each other, especially amid the pandemic.
"They will make sure everyone is fully equipped with face masks and gloves. We are constantly sanitising our hands and maintaining physical distancing when on the job.
"Personal hygiene and cleanliness is a top priority for all of them. We will do what it takes to remain healthy and safe." - NST
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