“I picked up rubbish, even dead rats. There is more trash out there than you would believe,” Arakawa told third-year students at a school in Shizuoka. “But the toughest thing for me was the cold looks I got from others. Some people even threw their cigarette butts in front of me to pick up,” he said.
While a student at university, he lived an affluent lifestyle thanks to the financial support of his parents, but he had no dreams for the future. Lacking confidence in himself he skipped classes and often went bar-hopping.
With a desire to make a change in his life, he came up with the idea of cleaning up the dirtiest places in the country. In November 2006, Arakawa started picking up trash outside the exit of Japan Railway’s Shinjuku Station every day at 6 a.m. He openly cried when he was harassed by some people, but soon a homeless man joined him in picking up trash. After three months, 50 people were helping Arakawa on his daily litter patrol.
In 2007, Arakawa rallied for people across the nation to make a special effort to clean up on May 3, and he called it Trash Day. He put out a call on the Internet for people to follow his lead, and when the day came, 444 people nationwide were picking up trash in their local communities. On May 3 the following year 1,500 people took part.
Arakawa got a job in March last year, and since then it has been impossible for him to pick up trash every morning. However, the May 3 cleanup day concept continues. Last year, 15,534 people picked up trash on the day and this year, the number of participants increased to 103,036.
"The important thing is to have the courage to take a step forward," he said. Arakawa has delivered his message in more than 300 schools.
A 14-year-old student stood up in front of the class to thank Arakawa on behalf of her schoolmates. She said later: "I'm not good at coming forward, so my hands were shaking. But after listening to his speech, I want to take on a challenge."
"Students have many concerns. They have to choose the direction they will take after graduation," said the teacher who invited Arakawa to visit the school. "So I wanted them to know that anyone can change if he or she works on something harder than anyone else."
Arakawa plans to publish a picture book about his experiences about a homeless man who was the first to give a hand picking up trash, and is Arakawa's way of expressing his thanks to the saggy-trousered gent.
“I was just useless. But as I continued to put forth each little effort, my life became fun,” Arakawa said. “Anyone can change if he just puts some effort into it.”
(Source: Yomiuri News 2010-07-01)
What a wonderful idea to clean up the filth in our neighborhoods! Unfortunately, no amount of good works can really clean up our act!
The Bible says:
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Only Christ's shed blood can take away our iniquities (sins) and make us all anew!
Romans 10: 9, 10-That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.