05 May 2009
by Elisabete Vilar
Garbage and waste that lay untreated and forgotten on Valera beach was soon dealt with by the volunteers. (UNV)Young people celebrating the 1 May holiday at Varela beach in the north of Guinea-Bissau were touched by the cleaning-up activity that UNV organized in cooperation with local development association Associação para Desenvolvimento de Varela. (UNV)Valera, Guinea-Bissau:
About 4,000 young people celebrating the 1 May holiday at Varela beach in the north of Guinea-Bissau were touched by the cleaning-up activity that UNV organized in cooperation with local development association Associação para Desenvolvimento de Varela.
Varela is one of the country’s favorite areas for young people’s gatherings and beach partying, but all the fun and the crowds also tend to leave a trail of garbage and waste that lies untreated and forgotten – and the mountains of beer bottles and cans are growing each year.
This time, however, with the aim of training and sensitizing the youngsters towards the importance of cleaning the beach and protecting the environment, the team mobilized by UNV adapted and put along the seashore 56 metal containers for the collection of garbage – an initiative supported by Lenox and Engen fuel stations.
The waste was carried by volunteers in wheelbarrows, given by the project. The event also involved talks and conversations with young people and group leaders, and attracted passers-by through megaphones and flags and distributing T-shirts.
The activity culminated with the temporary dedication by the village leaders of a small area destined for the treatment of the collected rubbish. A commitment arose among the participating girls and boys to later on build and isolate a space on that terrain in which to put the garbage – a result that, although incipient, left the UNV Programme Officer, Judith Mayer, full of enthusiasm!
“Environmental protection awareness and mobilization towards garbage recollection must be paired with a mentality change,” said Ms. Mayer. Though this is a process that cannot be achieved in a few days, she remarked, “a big step forward was already taken, given that it was the first time an activity of this type was held in Varela, making people think about this subject.”
Although there have been previous cleaning initiatives, this was the first time that the local population, especially young people, was involved in such a deep and committed way. The youth also appears to have internalized that it is necessary to keep up the work that was initiated then.