Living between Jungle and Ocean is an absolute blessing. There is an abundance of fresh fruits, wild waves, sandy beaches and lush green jungle rides. The locals in the village where I live are kind and generous. Everything looks and sounds like the paradise you've always imagined, until you see all the trash. Everywhere! Unable to grasp where all the trash is coming from I didn't give it much thought in the beginning of my stay. However, it was when I took of the plastic of a lollipop and put it away in my pocket when someone literally told me 'just dump it on the street' that the idea of a cleaning project was triggered.
The idea to clean up the streets in Dickwella had quickly taken it's form and, to my own surprise, I had to speak with the local authorities to get permission to organize a cleaning day. Everyone so far appreciates the project and wanted to support me. I felt a big excitement building up to see how many people would join in. I did eveything I could to spread the word around the village.
In the days leading up to the actual clean up I went into the village with flyers to make people more aware of the project and reach out for their help. Here I learned that most people were very excited about it and that they appreciate the initiative. I also learned that there are people who feel ashamed to clean the streets and showed resistance. Then there are people who used the cleaning project to create a certain status and name for themselves and there are the ones who truly understood the intention of it all and are ready to make a change. In the end, all sides want to live in a clean environment and that's what it's all about. I visited the local authorities and received an official paper in which they announced their cooperation.
I continued with a battle-ready mindset in the hope to plant some seeds of inspiration and motivation, triggering others to take better care of their own town and maintain a clean and healthy environment. Hoping that soon these kind of projects won't be necessary anymore. Really, how hard can it be to NOT throw your shit on the streets?
Finally the big day arrived and it left me feeling beyond happiness. The Cleanup project in Dickwella Town turned out to be a huge success! With at least 55 people helping to clean the streets we filled up and collected more than 100 huge garbage bags! I believe that everyone was stunned about the amount of trash. It was a lot more than we’d expected and only helped to make everyone more aware of the urgent situation. Colleagues from the resort where I worked, friends from outside, police officers and other locals helped out on the Cleanup Day that morning. People from the media stopped by and the Cleanup Day would be mentioned in the newspaper the day after. After four hours of non-stop sweating in the burning sun we were treated to a fresh juice and some ice-cream on the streets. A nice surprise from the locals who supported the project. A tuktuk with huge speakers announced messages about the cleanup initiative and let me give a little 'thank you' and motivation speech to everyone during our little break.
It was definitely a big step into the right direction. It had been a wake-up call for many. Besides the intention to help the people create and sustain a healthy and clean environment, the project also served as a bonding activity. I’ve never seen my colleagues laugh so much. Without a doubt, we did some strong teambuilding too!
During the whole day I felt emotional. I am so deeply touched to see what we have established together. Also, I feel strong. I stand in my own energy. As someone who inspires through example. Even if that means that I’m picking up dirty diapers and other filthy trash. I gave 200%. I gave it all until even my legs started shaking. Simply because I knew that if I worked hard, it would motivate the others to do so as well. RIght now, I just can’t help but think: if an ordinary girl can move so many people to make a change in their hometown, what more is possible? This is just the beginning!