Two former Japanese beauty queens will head a thousand-strong team cleaning the streets of Kep this month as part of a country-wide environmental initiative.
The endeavour, titled Kep Kep Clean, will be carried out on June 29 by the Miss Japan Volunteer Association (MJVA), with 2011 beauty pageant winner Hisae Arai at its head alongside her sister Kiko, the 2012 winner.
The Arai sisters recently organised a Dental Care camp conducted by a leading Japanese dentist for nearly 250 tennis playing kids at the Beeline Arena.
Arai is a leading member of the MJVA, heading its Southeast Asian wing in the promotion of social and environmental issues in countries that have strong and enduring relationships with Japan.
Earlier this year, Cambodia and Japan celebrated the 60th anniversary of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, marking the historic milestone by signing an aid agreement for two clean water projects in Kampong Cham and Battambang provinces.
“The two countries will pursue human resource development this year and the MJVA initiative is a joint project which will have marked effect on health and hygiene issues, especially in Cambodia’s coastal towns and cities,” Arai told the Post.
“Kep excites me like no other coastal town in Cambodia and I love to spend as much time as possible in Kep. When I am here I feel as if I am in one of those exotic locations back home in Japan and I am determined to keep Kep clean,” said Hisae Arai.
The volunteer cleaning brigade is expected to be as big as 1,000 people, mainly comprising students from 28 schools and six orphanages in and around the town, which has a population of about 50,000.
“We set off from the City Hall. There will be four teams of around 250 each heading in different directions. Each volunteer will have a plastic bag, tongs and a pair of gloves to pick up trash from pavements and beaches. It will be a three hour operation,” Arai said.
The MJVA will put up environmental awareness sign boards in every school apart from placing them in strategic points around town. Specially designed rubbish bins will also be placed, carrying messages and caricatures designed by Arai.
The program has been supported by Minister of Trade and Commerce Cham Prasidh, also the Tennis Federation of Cambodia president, who spends time in his sea-front home in Kep.
TFC secretary-general, Tep Rithivit, said the federation has been involved with hundreds of the children joining the clean-up as part of their junior program.
“We just do not teach these kids tennis skills. We want them to develop healthy habits and love for nature and beauty around them. We would be happy if our drive inspires one kid to practise it. For too long we have wasted time talking about it,” Rithivit told the Post.
The other major players joining the project are the Municipality of Kep City, GAEA, a rubbish collection company, and the National Federation of UNESCO Association in Japan. Both the provincial governor and mayor of Kep have expressed their support and co-operation.
The MJVA has Sihanoukville within its sights for another clean up drive later this year.