I’ve never had such a long writing break as I had this year. But I had also never been involved in such a mad project as Let’s Do It! was.
Almost suffocating in the haze of workload I still ask myself from time to time, how on earth I got dragged down this whirlpool.
I, Berit Renser, former semiotician and a hobby anthropologist, a photographer and travel writer, suddenly lead a garbage collection movement in a country, where the neighbouring wealthy Singapore and Japan export their leftovers and where throwing a bottle out of the car window is so natural act that drawing an admonishing attention at it, the offender doesn’t even understand what the crime had been.
To clean Indonesia, you must be joking! was my first thought, when a friend of mine offered me that chance. But as if hypnotized, we started our engines, which from that moment on suffered from the agony of tiredness, to announce the citizens that we had an enormous project in progress.
The situation was pitiful, but our large mouths formed flying castles. Berit Renser and Marie Le Ferrand, garbage problem resolvers from Europe leading an international NGO’s local branch started their mission now in Jogja and strolled overbearingly through newspaper editorials, with the press release in hands and a glowing smiles on faces.
In private meeting rooms we gave airy answers to each question we hadn’t solved yet and to add credit to our project we blurted out the most authoritative: “In the headquarters in Europe…”. Then they placed us standing under the large newspaper logo, snapped a few photos and flew us to the local media.
Our unreasonable self-confidence worked and since the first email to our official mailbox we never again had a proper sleep. Only a week later since the first steps of pride we found ourselves at a birthday party of Indonesia’s largest environmental organization. Our new friend, an elderly active woman had taken us there and after the speech of a few professors, she pushed us to the microphone. Having the full attention, we held a sumptuous spiel on material we had mastered online and received a resonant applause. Someone even squeezed my hand and congratulated us.
Finally our new friend made a conclusion of our performance:
“But before we start teaching the citizens, we should reconsider our own habits. From now on, dear listeners, we shall all start throwing our trash in the bin, what do you say?”
People exulted. Seemed like we had just uncovered the world’s biggest secret. A crowd gathered around us and wished to become a volunteer in Let’s Do It. In the one, that we didn’t have yet.
We planned our first meeting for the next weekend where volunteers were planned to map the illegal waste all around the city. It was probably the last moment when we had the chance to escape this mad project.
Read how it really works: http://www.letsdoitworld.org and do not get discouraged by my future subjective blog posts about leading the project. The stories are intended to be entertaining, therefore I will mostly describe the conflicts instead of successful moments.