Visiting expat cleans up community

National 2 minutes, 14 seconds


BRUNEI netizens have heaped praise on an Australian woman seen picking up rubbish last week in Seria, with her goodwill gesture opening discussion on the role of locals in keeping their own community clean.

Sixty-two-year-old Noelene Thorne, who is visiting her son, an expatriate working in the oil and gas industry, was first spotted picking up rubbish by a passer-by at Brunei Shell Petroleum's housing near the Seria wet market last week. The passer-by then snapped a picture of Thorne cleaning, posting it to his Facebook account on October 20. The post has since garnered close to two thousand likes and over 1,600 shares as of yesterday afternoon.

Noelene, when speaking to The Brunei Times yesterday, expressed her surprise over how the post went viral, claiming she was only “doing her part” to keep the environment she is staying in clean.

“My son informed me about the post (going viral) after his colleague told him about it. I started out cleaning his (my son's) garage first, once I did that I cleaned closer to the roadside,” said the 62-year-old who will fly back to Australia this Sunday.

Noelene says that her hometown near the Gold Coast in Queensland, has been kept in pristine condition through repeated enforcement and education.

“It (Gold Coast) wasn't always as clean as it is nowadays, as a matter of fact only a few years ago it was about the same as in Brunei,” she said.

Those sharing the post on their social media accounts highlighted the lack of individual efforts by Bruneians in cleaning their own environment.

“The reason why the post became such a hot topic is because the nice lady is only a foreign visitor, and yet she is bearing the heat of the sun to clean what is most likely our rubbish,” said Abdullah Hanif Hj Razak, who was amongst the 1,600 who shared the news.

Another Bruneian pointed out that although the country is become more aware about cleanliness, seen through regular cleaning campaigns involving hundreds of people, it is still a rare sight to see someone going around picking up trash on their own.

“Outside the municipal staff or hired cleaners, seeing an individual picking up anything other than their own trash is not something you see everyday,” said Siti Majidah Roslan.

Noelene, a retired nurse who previously volunteered for greenpeace, believes the problem of rubbish comes down to what members of society believe they are responsible for.

“I think its all in the mindset that people (not just in Brunei) should learn to view the surrounding environment they live in as their home as well. You would’t trash your home – so why the outdoors?” she said.

The Brunei Times