Projects Abroad Organises Coastal Clean-up in Panadura, Sri Lanka
Inspired by International Coastal Clean-up Day on September 19, Projects Abroad Sri Lanka staff members were joined by 27 volunteers for a beach clean-up on 24 September in Panadura, 25 km south of Colombo. The event was organised in conjunction with Sri Lanka’s National Coastal Cleaning Programme, inaugurated by President Maithripala Sirisena. This programme has been promoted by Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority under the theme of “sayura rakimu api surekemu” (Save the Ocean for Our Protection).
Teaching, Care, and Medicine Volunteers from placements between Galle and Colombo were invited to participate in the Thursday morning clean-up. Arriving via bus from across Sri Lanka’s south-western coast, the volunteers cleared rubbish from the scenic stretch of sand. Sorting the refuse between paper, plastic, metal, and textile for recycling, volunteers and staff were able to fill one dozen 60-gallon bags with litter. Volunteers were also able to clear abandoned fishing nets from the Panadura sand, freeing several trapped sea turtles and releasing them. The event was not only meant to show a foreign presence on coastal clean-ups, but was also a chance to encourage locals to get involved in conservation.
The National Coastal Cleaning Programme has two aims. It first aims to collect data on coastal contamination, and also aspires to change the Sri Lankan public’s attitude on the effects of such pollution. As Project Coordinator Aruni Jayawardane, who helped to organise the event, explained, “Volunteers were tasked with picking up as much refuse as possible during the event. Additionally, each volunteer was given an extra garbage bag and set of gloves with the goal of encouraging a local to participate in the clean-up. We wanted volunteers to feel a sense of accomplishment for both of the programme’s aims.” Through sharing their message of service, the volunteers successfully collaborated with local beachgoers, many of whom had never met foreign volunteers.
This was not Projects Abroad’s first beach clean-up in the Kalutara region. Each summer, Short-term Special volunteers participate in a coastal clean-up in the same area. As Operations Manager Ligaya Basalo shared, “We would like each volunteer with Projects Abroad Sri Lanka to feel a responsibility to safeguard the beautiful ecosystem of this country. Though we do not currently operate a Conservation project in Sri Lanka, our volunteers are able to contribute to conservation efforts through such events. All of the volunteers should be proud to have made a positive impact, and should be inspired to continue this ecological mindfulness once they return home.”
On an island nation that depends so heavily on its beautiful seascape, Projects Abroad is proud to support the Marine Environment Protection Authority’s efforts to safeguard Sri Lanka’s shores.
As part of International Coastal Clean-up Day on September 19, Projects Abroad ran similar activities in a number of other destinations, including Samoa and Ecuador, while we work year-round in Thailand, Cambodia, Mexico and Fiji to combat marine pollution. We are proud to continually improve and protect the marine ecologies that are so important to many of the communities in which we work.