What better way to start the new year than with some positive news? Not a bold analysis of a global event, but local beach clean-up initiatives in Lebanon organized by volunteers who stand up against environmental pollution in the country of the cedar. Enough is enough is their motto
Environmental negligence in Lebanon worsened severely over the past years. Some non-profit organisations like SWIM Lebanon are working hard to turn the tide and raise awareness amongst the countries’ younger generations by organising frequent beach clean-ups. So they did, in the run-up to Christmas, at the beaches on the Northern coast of Lebanon.
By Arthur Blok, with additional reporting by Lisa Sofian
In late December, SWIM Lebanon joined hands with Minaty Association in Mina, to organise various activities on Lebanon’s northern beaches to spread eco-friendly behaviour towards the environment.
Despite a cold and rainy morning, 82 children between 4 to 14 gathered with their parents right after sunrise to pick up gloves and bags to start cleaning up the beach. And with success. In less than one hour, 35 large bags of garbage was collected.
Happy all over when Santa suddenly arrived at the scene with goodie bags for everyone.
A day that could not have been better for Rania El Bort, the driving force behind Minaty Association. The clean-up coincided with her birthday. “This was the best present ever. I saw all these happy faces around me. With initiatives keeping these beaches clean is now something programmed in minds. That was the idea.”
Her three-year-old NGO supports a community of over 1200 families with small grants for schooling, medical aid and support in their daily living. An accomplishment indeed. These small local initiatives are what help people survive in Lebanon. A country heavily neglected by its ruling political elite.
An elite that does not want to leave, despite losing the last elections.
A few days later, on Christmas morning, SWIM LEBANON planned another environmental activity at Okaibé beach (between the coastal cities of Jounieh and Byblos). Young and old gathered for another clean-up session on this cold and rainy December morning.
The participants collected around 25 Extra-large bags of trash, mostly plastic bottles thrown back to the beach by the waves.
Myriam Choueiry, one of the volunteers who joined the initiative, had to interrupt her Christmas food preparations. She sees clean-up almost as a sacred duty: “ I focus on small particles easily missed with the naked eye. These particles end up in our food chain. That is very dangerous for our health."
Two enthusiastic ladies, Nissrine & Olga, were also happy to make a statement. “Keeping the seafronts clean should be applied not only during summer but also in winter. Look at the beautiful clean beach. Would it not be wonderful if we preserve its cleanliness the whole year round?”
Who can disagree with that?
If a state throws the towel back in the ring., the people are left with no choice but to act. The clean-up was followed by a 1200-meter swim in the freezing sea and other fun activities. Extraordinary events are organised by environmental enthusiasts who are eager to show that even though our planet is suffering, the tide can be turned.
With these positive initiatives, SWIM Lebanon and Minaty beautifully illustrate that Christmas is about exchanging gifts and giving back to mother Earth.