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Monday, October 1, 2012

International Coastal Cleanup Day

Building cosciousness in the young people of Nicaragua. International Coastal Cleanup Day 2012.. Photo by Dennis van der Woude.
Most visitors to Nicaragua note two things immediately. The people are friendly and the trash is ubiquitous. The sides of roads throughout the cities and countryside alike are coated with plasic bags and soda bottles. Nicaragua, like most of the third world, is unprepared for the modern conveniences of the developed world. Rather than just complain about it, we have set about to improve things here, starting with our own backyard, Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve.
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Students from our local high school, Colegio Jose Augusto Silva, assemble at Estacion Biologica for indications before cleaning up their designated area. Photo by Gordon Evans.
The International Coastal Cleanup Day is celebrated in Nicaragua to help us focus on what challenges we face along the shores of our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Once the trash enters the water, we may not even notice the disasters it continues to cause. Our abundant beaches should stay clean for us and for all the aquatic wildlife that did not ask for their homes to be polluted. Of course, plenty of the trash goes onto the water. The fish must make their lives around our beer cans and junk food wrappers. We also periodically organize underwater trash cleanups, too.
We found lots of trash, filling dozens of bags. Photo by Dennis van der Woude.
FUNDECI/GAIA collaborated with the Masaya Department office of MARENA, which coordinated the activities in two locations. One of them was Lake Apoyo, so we worked closely with our local community, the Ministry of Health, Movimiento Ambientalista Guardabarranco, and the muncipal governments of Masaya, Catarina, and San Juan de Oriente. CARUNA offered important logistical support. Volunteers and staff from Estacion Biologica and students of Apoyo Spanish School showed up early to help with communication
The International Coastal Cleanup in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve resulted in hundreds of pounds of garbage  removed from its shores. Photo by Dennis van der Woude.
We don't really like picking up the trash from other people, just so they can drop more in its place. But we do like contributing to activities that change attitudes and situations. The International Coastal Cleanup gives many Nicaraguans a chance to think that "another Nicaragua" is possible, one without lots of trash everywhere. By involving the government on many levels, more preventative measures regarding trash may be generated.
Donald is a teacher at Apoyo Spanish School and a lifelong resident of the Laguna de Apoyo area. He volunteered his free time to help pick up trash. Photo by Dennis van der Woude.

Interns performing projects at Estacion Biologica in Laguna de Apoyo contributed to the cleanup effort. Photo by Dennis van der Woude.
Activities such as trash cleanup should be fun and a learning, positive experience. We enjoyed participating, especially because everyone was smiling. We all felt that, by helping to clean up Laguna de Apoyo, we are more a part of this special place, too. We want this lake to be clean and beautiful for the next generation.
Trash often finds its way into places where people rarely walk. Photo by Dennis van der Woude.
Nicaraguans and foreigners got to cooperate in this experience, too. Picking up trash alongside the Nicaraguans was much more interesting than listening to the foreigners complain about the trash everywhere. Both Nicaraguans and foreigners have a greater appreciation for Nicaragua and its problems when they work together to make a small contribution to solve them.
Laguna de Apoyo is fortunate to have students and teachers interested in protecting Laguna de Apoyo.  Photo by Dennis van der Woude.
Volunteering in Nicaragua is a great way to travel and experience the country. We always have great activities for volunteers to help with these activities. Would you like to be involved? Please contact us.
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