Well, I was right at least! It really was an event! And a large one! And one to be proud of.
After the days of preparation that we had put in, it would have been disappointing if the turnout had been only a handful. It also would have meant that the 500 bread snacks and 100 litres of juice that we had arranged for all the participants would not have gone to good use. I like bread – but just not that much!
So we arrived early on White Beach with feelings of excitement and apprehension! We could not have received a much better welcoming boost to find that one of the Womens Local Community Groups were already there on the beach, brushes in hand and eager to start cleaning. I think for me at that point, the anxiety cleared – this was definitely going to go well!
Really from that moment on, the Clean-Up almost developed a life of its own. We set up the tables, the snacks, the drinks, the speakers and the music, and the banner that had been painted by the local children two days before (see the previous blog entry)…. And people just turned up! Not in their tens but (by our best estimate) actually in their hundreds! YES! We think we actually had over 200 people collecting garbage on the beach at the height of the afternoons event. Young and old…. everyone came along to do their bit. It was a stunning turnout. And one that made all the effort we had put in SO worthwhile.
For me it was a revelation – somewhere in the back of my mind was a nagging feeling that the amount of garbage on White Beach provided an indication of what local people were prepared to do about it – not much! Maybe that explained by anxiety about what the turnout would be. But what the Clean-Up made clear to me was that the local community have real pride in island and their environment. Yes, there is a garbage problem. But they really do recognise that. And when there is a call to action to try and do something about it – they will answer. From all of us at People and the Sea, we would like to say “CONGRATULATIONS” to all the people of Malapascua who turned out to clean up their beach. It was an amazing effort.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank….
…For all of their help and support in making this Beach Clean-Up come to life!
And so, the pictures show you how much litter was collected. It was hard to saw really… we had developed a plan to try and weigh it all, but there was simply not time to do it on the day. Best estimate was over a ton of garbage!! There was LOADS of it!
And so the aftermath!! That’s right – another aspect of this whole event that has escaped me slightly when the idea was first conceived – we still had to get all of this litter on to a boat, and off the island. The work was far from finished.
Roll on the following morning…. the boat of the local Bantay Dagat (Guardians of the Sea) had been made available to carry out the evacuation of the litter. It might be early, but the sun was beating down and just to make matters more difficult, there was a very low tide meaning that everything we had collected had to be carried at least 100 metres to the boat. This proved to be another occasion for the people of the local community, and the crew of the Bantay Dagat themselves, to really show their colours. It took at least two hours of hard, manual work, but we made it! The sense of achievement as we sat, exhausted, on the beach watching the result of a weeks hard work sail into the distance was remarkable.
And so, its now three days later, and I feel like I have almost recovered! Would we do it all again?? Absolutely. But next time we will be prepared for the task ahead!