PHOTO: Keep Matamaka Beautiful!
This year for environment week, Matamaka GPS did a huge beach cleanup. My kaumea from the states, Ashley, helped out to make the event a success. Fellow yachters who were in the area also assisted with the beach cleanup.
Before we began the cleanup, Ma’asi and Soane did an environmental lesson to all the children. They highlighted information on what is rubbish and items that are recyclable. I believe the kids got the basic concept of the lesson. Next Soane had split all the students into two groups. Each group was in charge of a beach in Matamaka. The goal was to collect as much rubbish as possible. In addition, we had a contest to see which team could collect as many batteries. My group collected a plastic bag full and we thought we won. When we met up with the other group, I was shocked to find out that they had collected a whole flour sack full of batteries!
PHOTO: Soane explaining the dangers of global warming (aka scaring the crap out of the kids) and the flour sack of batteries found on the beach.
Once all the rubbish was collected, we dug up a hole and buried it all. We did not burn all the rubbish like what all the other people in Tonga do. As for the batteries, I plan on recycling them all with Gio Recyling. They are supposedly building a Vava’u branch that can recycle batteries. As for now, the batteries sit at school. I have told the kids to continue collecting batteries if they see them around (especially on the beach). They have to understand the environmental impacts of corroded batteries. I am hoping to find a more sustainable solution of battery removal from the island before I leave. I just have to convince the people of Matamaka to why they should not dump them in the water.
PHOTO: Team Ma’asi/Ashley VS. Team Soane/Feleti
In the end, everyone had a blast with the beach cleanup. It was a great way for Ashley to meet most of the Matamaka residents and get to know all the children. The children hopefully will learn something from it and think twice before they throw rubbish on the beach. In total we collected over eight flour sacks of rubbish. We will do another beach cleanup in late September again and anyone is welcome to join us!