By Louis Pearson
Yesterday was the penultimate day of the August 2008 expedition, Sunday 21st September 2008. And it was the day that the postponed PADI Project Aware International Beach Clean Up Day was to be held (postponed due to a tragic death in the village). Everybody here in Andavadoaka woke early to a glorious day, the hottest and stillest I can remember since April. The first clean up activity was a dive to our favourite reef, Recruitment, which is always a pleasure. We set off armed with mesh bags, gloves, dive knifes, lift bags etc. with an aim of litter sweeping the reef and collecting any marine litter that has found its way onto the reef. This was a total success, and we had some great dives and left the reef pristine, and free from any manmade debris.
After a short rest and we’d eaten our fill of rice and beans, we set about the main event for the day, a massive beach clean up. Now we have done beach clean ups in the past but this was on another level. This had been planned and organised well in advance by the BV team and the village, and it was epic. An incredible banner had been made by Sarah Joy and Josie, and Ioannis and Daniella had devised a tribal chant with Ali accompanying on the jembe, and Bic and Bienvenue had organised prizes for the litter picking competition.
We arrived on the empty beach in front of the village at about three o’clock to erect the banner and get things under way. While the banner was being dug into the sand, a procession lead by Ali on the drum marched around the village to recruit litter pickers – AKA kids – of which there are always plenty!
We love the sea,
Help us keep it clean,
Liovo Saragna (clean the beach)
They set off down the beach in a group of maybe 10 volunteers and staff, and arrived back through the village 15 mins later with an army of kids all chanting in unison, Liovo Saragna, No Rubbish! It was quite a sight. We now had a horde of willing workers, all a little over excited as they always are, ready to go.
We lead them through the song a couple of times just to get their blood pumping, then Bic announced the competition, organised all the kids into teams and set them off. They stampeded down the beach at a hundred miles an hour with rice sacks in tow to collect as much rubbish as possible. It was fantastic, Bic co-ordinating hundreds of unruly kids, all of them reporting back to him when they had a full sac, emptying it on the ever growing pile of rubbish at his feet and setting off again for more.
Eventually we had an enormous pile of rubbish, and hundreds of overexcited kids that Bic was trying to get to sit down so we could organise some photos and the prize giving. He did an absolutely heroic job of it for about half an hour. I’ve been here 9 months and I can honestly say I’ve never seen anyone control the kids like he did – it was magic, until… he brought out the prizes!
The winners received notebooks and pens and pencils, but then there were sweets for everyone else who took part, and this is where it became totally crazy. In the end he handed the bag of sweets to James, our Ents manager and boat driver, and ran away as James was swiftly overwhelmed by hundreds of pairs of hands desperate to get the sweets.
It all concluded at sunset with a pristine beach, and a bunch of sun kissed, sweaty volunteers and staff, heading for Halfmoon Beach for a cool-off and volleyball in the sea. A great success.