Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cleaning day at the Costa del Sol beach in Maputo: a community effort

Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, is infamous for being among the 25 dirtiest cities in the world.
Starting point where participants
picked up gloves, masks, bags, and rakes.
Groups of 4 people were organized to pick
paper and cardboard, plastic, glass and cans.

According to the Mercer Health and Sanitation Index, Mozambique “suffers from lack of sanitation processes--specifically the lack of a solid waste removal system as well as sewage treatment. The capital city of Maputo feels the worst of these consequences. Piles of garbage line the streets, and the sewage in the river is visibly thick.” Mmmm. Nice.

Dirty beaches? Reason enough to join the initiative to clean the beach of Costa del Sol, north from the city (if we had done it along the Atlantic coast why not do it along the Indian Ocean?). The event was organized by the Department for Social Responsibility of the Bank Millenium BIM, the Portuguese School, the Primary School Polana Caniço A and the NGO Associação Moçambicana de Reciclagem (A.M.O.R.).

Lots of work to do

Work started early to avoid the heat, but people kept on joining throughout the morning.

Glass bottles, plastic bottles, cans, plastic bags, food wraps, styrofoam containers, juice boxes, cigarette butts ... and much more. We found a lot of everything.

Kids were in general very helpful, but some seemed more prepared than others. One of the youngest ones who had not yet received a bag, collaborated by bringing garbage to add to my bag. I thanked him but had to explain to him that ‘garbage’ didn’t include wood, seaweed, or leaves.
Event the youngest ones collaborated

Then, when I saw he was picking stuff without gloves, I offered mine. Without saying a word he took a pair out of his pocket: it was just too hot to wear them and he decided to do without.

After a bit more explaining on my part, we continued picking, this time only garbage and with the gloves on. I wasn’t able to get more than a yes or no from him, but we did fill two bags rather quickly.

Impressed by the enthusiasm of this little one

Fadi didn’t leave
even the tiniest
shred of glass behind

At the arrival one of the containers of A.M.O.R. or Ecopoints, organizers selected the recyclable material.

Arrival point: Ecopoint

Exhausted participants were welcomed with refreshments after the long walk along the beach under the sun.


Later there was live music, games for the kids to learn to separate materials, competitions, races, building of sandcastles and kite flying.

Looking at the effort the girl in the photo I’m reminded of the quote:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.

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