One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure

National 3 minutes, 6 seconds


ONE man's trash is another man's treasure. Yes, with little imagination, the waste discarded by others can bring you income.

A Bruneian couple has been doing this for the past 20 years. They might not be aware of 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – but the husband-wife team of Ahmad Hj Madin and Delina Rashid can be called ‘green warriors’ as they collect empty cans and used boxes discarded by companies and restaurants at the Serusop commercial area to be sold to a recycling company.

Ahmad, 47, told The Brunei Times he collects waste to help his wife earn an extra income to supplement his salary of $750 a month as a cleaner in the government sector.

“I am a cleaner for the government during the day and a scavenger of this area (Serusop) at night”, said Ahmad.

He goes to work at Kota Batu by bus as early as 7am and then assists his wife to collect waste around 4pm.

Ahmad, who married 48-year-old Delina in 1990, lives in a small wooden house at Kg Delima 2.

Delina starts collecting waste at 9am and the hunt could stretch until midnight.

The couple says they are not beggars, but workers who learnt about recycling waste from an ethnic Chinese man 20 years ago.

Delina was reserved when explaining details of her family background.

“I don’t know about them,” she said. Ahmad has 11 siblings and Delina has four siblings.

Since 1994, the couple has been collecting four trolleys of folded empty boxes and five kilogrammes of empty cans almost daily in exchange of money at a recycling company in Serasa.

Daikyo Environmental Recycling Project Manager James Hung said the couple receives $310 on 24th of every month as part of their deal to bring in the waste for recycling.

At 8.30pm, the couple had to supply the company’s driver with their collection.

“We don’t force them to collect more (waste),” said Hung, adding that there is no specific quota required.

Meanwhile, Soofi Enterprise receptionist, Haja Nazebudeen Abdul Karim, who has been working in the Sultanate for more than five years, said he often sees the couple looking for recyclable materials.

“As a Muslim, I feel sorry for them. So, I help them by giving as much empty cans as possible,” he said.

Md Fadillah Kadri, who works at Sofian Ikhwan Veevinty Car Wash for 10 years, praised the couple.

“The good thing about these two is that they do not beg for money. The fact that they are willing to walk around here (Serusop commercial area) without any care of what other people think, is just very phenomenal. They earn income with their own sweat,” said the 25-year-old.

A staff at one of the restaurants at Serusop commercial area said he has allowed the couple to collect empty boxes for many years.

The staff had offered money to the local scavenger in the past, but decided to just offer used boxes to prevent them from becoming beggars.

“Rather than begging, it’s much better to provide them with the opportunity to earn money by working,” he said.

“Even early in the morning when cars are not around, Delina would just go around and clean the area by hunting empty cans. For me, what she does is community service to the society,” said the restaurant staff.

Tuah Ahmad, a resident of Kg Serusop, said people around the area know the couple has been collecting recyclable materials for many years.

“I heard the couple has endured some kind of family dispute in the past. I think they have some sort of psychological problem,” claimed the 50-year-old.

However, the couple responded that they are normal people who wanted to earn a living through a halal way.

The Brunei Times