‘Street urchin’ volunteers to pick up garbage in Shenzhen

Many of us know of a social outcast who said, “One day a real rain’s gonna come and wash the scum off the streets.” A local man is taking a much more positive approach to doing just that.

A self-described street urchin has made it his one-man mission to clean garbage off the streets around his home in Shenzhen, according to The Daily Sunshine. For most of the past 9 days, Liu Jiwen, 36, has been picking up garbage on Fuyong Street in Bao’an District near Kangzhibao Department Store. Liu has been in Shenzhen for 17 years, has never had a steady job, and been a petty thief for most of that time. He is divorced and his wife has full custody of the child. When a passer-by asks him what he is doing and why, he smiles and explains he is doing what makes him happy.

On the afternoon of June 11, a reporter for The Daily Sunshine noticed a man wearing blue-rimmed spectacles, covered in dust and mud, picking cigarette butts, paper and other waste and putting it into a trash bag with his bare hands. He has become known in the area as Brother Cleanliness.

Several weeks ago he went to Shanghai with a friend. He noticed how clean the streets were, and when he saw a pedestrian drop the skin of a watermelon, he bent down and picked it up. He suddenly felt that this was a very satisfying thing to do. He decided that as soon as he returned to Shenzhen, he would spend a large amount of time every day cleaning the streets.

Liu even bends down and picks chewing gum off the street. Sometimes people see what he is doing and offer money, but he never accepts. “If I ever accepted money to do this, it would lose its meaning.”

In an interview with Shenzhen Evening Post, Liu confessed that he hadn’t always been a good person. After arriving in Shenzhen when he was 19, he got trained in Martial Arts and got a job as a security guard. However, he was fired from that job after stealing from his employer. When asked why he was doing it, he explained that he intended to turn over a new leaf, and become a good person. “I am not trying to prove anything.” His inspiration is his ex-wife Bing Bing, who he believes would be supporting his actions if she knew about it.

Liu has no source of income, and his friends are worried about him. He will often miss one or two meals a day, and recently, he spent the night in an Internet Bar because he has no fixed abode.

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