Conservation Volunteers in Thailand clean-up Koh Yao
Sarah Gregson, has been on our Conservation Project in Thailand since the start of October, here she tells us about a recent beach clean-up project that the volunteers got involved in.
The twelve volunteers on the Marine Conservation project in Thailand made a four day trip to the local island of Koh Yao last month. The focus of the trip was to clean up the litter from the island's beaches and community areas. In turn it was hoped we would raise awareness within the island's community about the need to clear up their rubbish.
The volunteers travelled to the island by boat and were treated to a very picturesque journey passing other local islands rising out of the turquoise Andaman Sea. Once on the island the group were taken to the central village to a traditional Thai house that we would call home for the next few days. Some were excited to be staying in the old, wooden, stilted house, with its old fashioned décor. Others were a little horrified by the lack of shower or proper toilet! And the gaps between the planks forming the floor proved a little frightening.
After a hearty Thai lunch of rice, the team of staff and volunteers went to various areas on the island to survey which area to prioritise. The island's beaches boasted beautiful views out to sea and many of the volunteers felt the real need to clean them up so they could be deservedly enjoyed by the locals and few tourists on the island.
After rather a disturbed night's sleep, due in part to loud cockerels, the team sprang into action to first tidy up around a local mosque. Not only did the volunteers collect up litter but also made a bit of a 'Ground Force' effort cutting grass and planting bushes. After two and half hours hard graft the area was much improved and the volunteers felt pleased with the result. The 261.7kg of waste was a clear document of our efforts.
In the afternoon after a swim in beautiful warm sea water and more rice the team set to clearing Ba Sai Beach. A total of 380.5kg of litter was collected. 149.6kg of this was glass, testament to how important the volunteers' job was.
The evening was spent chatting, drinking and singing along to the guitar. However, after the hard day's work, many of the volunteers retired to the confines of their mosquito nets early.
The following day was spent in much the same way clearing round another mosque then on to a beach. Lunch was enjoyed on the beach with the added excitement of coconut picking. One of the staff members shimmied up a coconut palm and cut down the ripe ones. These were opened up and many of the volunteers tasted fresh coconut and milk for the first time. A great, rare experience, just what Projects Abroad is all about!
That evening everyone involved with the volunteers' stay on the island enjoyed a barbeque at a beach front bar. The British volunteers educated all in the delights of toasting marshmallows, to the great amusement of the Thais who had never had anything quite like it!
The team was up at 5.30am to tidy up the house, pack and breakfast. On the way back to the mainland the boat stopped off at a coral reef heavily destroyed by the Tsunami for the volunteers to do a bit of snorkelling and assess the reef. It was disheartening to see that although the reef was lively with fish it was being further threatened by nets and other debris. After some time snorkelling we had great fun jumping and diving off the boat.
After such hard work picking up over 1000kg of rubbish in two days the volunteers felt passionate about informing Thais and tourists about the dangers of irresponsibly disposing of their waste. So the afternoon was spent back at Projects Abroad house planning a new campaign.