Pahlawan Volunteers

Negara Kita Tanggungjawab Kita – From Conviction to Action

Miracle at Batu Caves

with 4 comments

By Gabrielle Chong

50 Sampah Masyarakat volunteers performed the ultimate miracle last Monday – they cleaned up all the rubbish Batu Caves one day after Thaipusam – all approximately 2400 cubic meters of it. –

Anyone who has ever visited Batu Caves during the annual Thaipusam celebration will have witnessed the gargantuan amount of rubbish left behind by 1.3 million devotees every year. And yet, despite the mountainous odds, the volunteers left the place without a trace of filth.

Before 9.00AM

Before 9.00AM

Armed with only gloves, rakes and shovels provided by Alam Flora, the volunteers had to clear, under the scorching sun, towering heaps of putrid baby diapers, Styrofoam boxes spilling with rice, piles of coconut husks, discarded shoes and containers filled with fermented milk.

‘Sampah Masyarakat’, the brainchild of Shyam Priah, 35, was formed as an organization to tackle the Malaysian malady of littering through voluntary cleaning efforts.

At the beginning, a total of 100 persons had pledged to volunteer for the Thaipusam clean-up for 12 hours but when only 50 turned up, the clean-up time had to be cut to 6 hours.

The volunteers were then dispatched to nine different zones in and around Batu Caves to clean up different places. The rubbish was disposed at nine huge ro-ro (roll-on, roll-off) bins strategically placed around the place.

“I would say that we were insufficient but efficient.

20 minutes after the clean-up began, I could hear volunteers cheering loudly after succeeding in cleaning up a rubbish pile. The cheers continued throughout the entire clean-up, and I think that mutual encouragement kept our spirit going whenever we felt overwhelmed by the intimidating amount of rubbish.
Some of the vendors were also very thankful for our help and wished us well”, recalled Shyam.

The volunteers include doctors, managers, system analysts, engineers and a CEO. One of the volunteers had travelled all the way from Seremban just to participate in the clean-up, and another two elderly Chinese tourists were so impressed with the group’s efforts that they joined in on the spot.

“Despite the fact that this clean-up was concentrated on a place of worship for mainly Hindus, only 6 of the 50 volunteers were Indians; the rest were Chinese and Malay. And this is exactly what I wanted – a multiracial effort.

If you think that Malaysians are generally uncaring and apathetic, this is the sort of event that will totally change your perception.

It requires dedicated, committed people to wake up at 6am in the morning just to volunteer for something as humbling as cleaning up tremendous piles of other people’s rubbish. And here we have just that – strangers coming together and sacrificing for a cause they believe in.

It was not just the enormous amounts of rubbish that made our work difficult. Some of us were not tall enough to throw the rubbish sacks into the huge ro-ro bins and we had rubbish spilling onto our faces.

By the time the clean-up finished, we had grim and dirt in our hair. I suffered sunburn for days after the clean-up and I dirtied my car too.

Nevertheless, the feeling of satisfaction more than made up for the effort we gave. It was only while driving home (in a dirtied, stinking car) that the feeling of ‘Wow! I actually cleaned up Batu Caves!’ hit me.’

As for the volunteers, they felt so empowered, motivated and inspired that they immediately discussed about plans for future projects right after the clean-up”, added Shyam.

After the Clean-Up

After the Clean-Up

The next Sampah Masyarakat clean-up will be held on Wesak Day. Again, members of the public will be invited to participate in the event. Contact Shyam at for updates on the next clean-up.


Written by PahlawanVolunteers

February 27, 2009 at 3:34 am

Posted in Barisan Rakyat

4 Responses

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  1. To all those who volunteered their time and effort, well done. It is these little things that add up to make a wonderful nation that we can be proud of.


    February 28, 2009 at 7:49 am

  2. Nice to know that there is still trust and love in this country. Cant say the same for the government though.


    February 28, 2009 at 11:48 pm

  3. Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    Don’t pay for your electricity any longer…
    Instead, the power company will pay YOU!


    March 3, 2009 at 3:35 am

  4. how am i suppose to register for sampah masyarakat…..???


    January 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm

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