One man's mission for a cleaner Valley inspires
"PEOPLE open their doors to me and treat me like their grandson or their kid. That doesn't happen in this day and age.”
Aydan Wyse can't thank the people who have supported him enough. He could never have known how picking up rubbish on the side of the road could change his life.
"They let you in like you're family. I'm living proof that if you get out there and help people, you receive good in return.”
Only a few months ago Aydan was slipping into depression after having family issues. It was then that he decided to get up and exercise to help get through it.
While he was running along the Clarence Valley streets, he noticed just how much roadside rubbish there was.
"I started in Iluka and I roughly picked up 500 to 700 bags off the Iluka Road,” he said.
Aydan has collected hundreds and hundreds of bags of rubbish from Ashby, Tullymorgan, Chatsworth, Evans Head, Woodburn and Broadwater and now he's cleaning up Yamba Rd.
"I've just passed Palmers Island, and I've collected about 300 bags,” he said.
"Every day I am keen to get back out on the road and go again. The community is getting right behind me, people beep their horn and it inspires me to keep going.”
Despite facing trouble in the Richmond Valley Council, Aydan said Clarence Valley Council had gotten behind his attempts to clean up the Valley. The rangers pick up the yellow bags full of rubbish he leaves behind.
"(I asked) if they could pick up the bags in the afternoon and give awareness because it shows people where I have been for the day,” he said.
One of Aydan's longest days picking up rubbish was almost 14 hours. But according to him, he doesn't even notice the summer heat.
"I'm on a high from the people beeping and they just give me energy, it inspires me to keep going,” he said.
"It's the little things. I have no water and someone will stop and say 'I thought of you and here is a bottle of water'.
"People can't understand how happy I am. I don't have a house, I don't have anything but I can still inspire people and show people a better way to be.
"It's not about getting something in return.”
Many local businesses and people have been getting behind Aydan with donations and sponsorship, including the Mobile Barn in Maclean, Yamba Coles, Bob Little from Spar Maclean, Signcraft & Design and Tru Blu Prawn Farms.
"The support I've been getting from the local community is amazing, I could go to the local coffee shop and they will say 'your money is no good here'.
"I don't expect it, it gets me all gooey inside.”
Aydan is hoping his efforts to clean up the Clarence will encourage young children to get out there and give back to the community.
"I want to inspire the next generation of kids,” he said.
"Kids have been coming up and saying hello to me. Parents are talking to their kids about what's been going on.
"I don't have a phone, I got rid of it... I didn't want to have outside influences and to just do the job at hand.”
If you want to help Aydan with his quest you can follow him on Facebook at One Man's Effort to Clean up the Clarence, which is run by his friends at Mobile Barn, or you can make A Wyse Decision and donate to his gofundme where he has already raised more than $1000 to help his clean-up.