Giving back to the community

By Ben Garcia

Fintas Park is an oasis in the middle of the desert, with huge trees and a playground where people walk, jog and enjoy the greenery. Mia, a Japanese woman who lives down the lane, walks daily to the park to pick up trash, facemasks and gloves discarded by visitors. She said she is not doing a favor to anyone, as this is part of her culture.

“This is a small way of giving back to the community where I have lived for years – this place gives me happiness and to many people around here. Keeping it neat and clean is not hard work – it’s a normal thing to do,” Mia, who is in her early 50s, told Kuwait Times.

Mia said she cannot leave the place until she is able to contribute something. Along with picking up the trash, Mia also feeds stray and abandoned cats foraging for food. “In the morning, I bring canned food to give to the cute cats in the park. Now I have several babies expecting me every day – the cats! My happiness is unmatched in seeing these cats happy and enjoying the food. They need to live too,” she said.

Mia is married to a Briton who works in the oil sector. “I normally stay at home, so I thought I can be more productive if I use my free time feeding the cats and cleaning the park. I don’t do it for anyone – I am doing it because I know it’s the right thing to do. In my country, we don’t throw plastic bottles or any other rubbish in the park. We need to love the place where we live and be happy,” she said.

Mia’s actions have not gone unnoticed by people frequenting the park. Bassam, a Syrian English teacher, has only praise and admiration for this Japanese lady. “We should all be like her. She doesn’t need to do what she’s doing since the park has cleaners. She is not an ordinary woman – she deserves our full respect. She has brought her culture of discipline to Kuwait and that is amazing. I am also guilty of sometimes throwing things and taking my surroundings for granted. She’s not just doing a favor to the environment, but imparting some important lessons we should all learn,” Bassam said.

Sometimes, children join Mia in picking up the trash throughout the garden. “Several Kuwaitis who come to me and say ‘thank you’. I tell them that this is a small act of kindness and that we should all be doing it. I tell them I need no praise for it,” she said.