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My weekend away with AKTI

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to attend a three-day Educational Bootcamp on Environmental Protection and Sustainability in September of last year. Primarily, this is a subject close to my heart. We all have a responsibility to protect the world we live in and ensure that it is safe for all for many years to come. It is essential that our generation is a central part of that. Secondly though, who is going to turn down a free trip to the sea, an opportunity to learn and experience a village like Kormakitis with its distinct identity, an opportunity to meet new, and hopefully like-minded people? Not me, that's for sure. A big thank you to Carola, AKTI and MASDER for giving me such a great opportunity. It was much appreciated.

So, I arrived at the Ledra Palace meeting point in plenty of time, in high spirits ready for the days ahead. We all jumped on the bus and off we went. It was clear to me straight away that there was a big diversity of people on the bus. People of different ages, nationalities and work background. I instantly took this as a good thing, as this meant that there would be people with a variety of viewpoints. Plenty of opportunities for exciting discussions. There was lots of team bonding on the journey via sweet exchange, so I felt that the discussions would be friendly too.   

 

A herd of goats did their best to slow our journey down. Despite their noisy protest, order was restored and we were soon on our way. On arrival, we were introduced to our surroundings, offered drinks and snacks. Even though it was only a relatively short bus journey, it was a warm day and refreshments were gratefully received. It was great to meet our hosts from AKTI and MASDER Christina, Maria-Christina and Serdar. As well as being very friendly, it was clear that they all had a lot of passion and knowledge in their area. We were motivated further for the days ahead. With the introductions over, we were lucky enough to be given a guided tour of Kormakitis Village. It’s a village with character and history. All the buildings were old, but they were kept in good condition. You could see that people cared about the appearance of their village. It is very small though. Every left or right turn led to the same destination. We spoke to an elderly lady in the village who has made this place her home. She invited us into her home for lemonade and was pleased to show us her impressive flower collection. We were wondering how she kept them in such good condition. Eventually, she confessed to us that most of them are plastic. We all laughed.   


Day 2 started with a series of presentations about what is happening with the climate today and the detrimental effect of climate change in the world we live in. Our presenters definitely gave us much food for thought. Looking around my colleagues, I could see that they had all been attentive to what the presenters had to say. The practical examples given, like high levels of sea pollution in Cyprus and the recent incidences of marine mammal strandings, made us realise that the consequences of inadequate environmental protection are being seen close to home. We were all saddened to be told about the sea lions, who have never been seen in our shores before, having died high likely as a result of man’s actions in the sea. The presentations motivated us further to want to be part of a solution to improve and protect Cyprus for many years to come. Prof Ozden described what is happening now in relation to biodiversity, so were assured that recognition and understanding of the issues are pointing us in the right direction.


The purpose of the trip to Kornos Beach was for us to see for ourselves how much man - made pollution is affecting our natural environment. It was disappointing to see so much litter spread before us. Most of the litter was discarded plastic bottles, but we also saw plastic lids, cigarette butts and even old clothes. Our presenters told us that most of the litter had floated in from other countries. We could only imagine how much litter is out there in the Mediterranean Sea. We worked together in teams to clean the beach.  In the time we were given, we collected 40kg of rubbish. A shocking amount. Professor Ozden told us at this point that there are no plastic recycling facilities in Cyprus that she is aware of. Plastics are sent abroad and often damaged in transit making them unsuitable for recycling.

 

Back at Base Camp, we categorised the litter into groups. We cleaned the litter as best we could, then worked on creating our own art pieces from the litter. All of the art was put on display in a prominent position on the outer wall of the centre, for all to see. We did the display partly in memory of our visit but also for it to be a reminder to all passing by of the increasing problem of man-made environmental pollution. The day finished with an evening meal to a restaurant where the owner has a special story. As well as being a restaurateur, she also provides accommodation to the poor and needy. A lovely lady. A karaoke and dance had us all ready for bed! 

 

Day 3 started with the arrival of H.E Salina Grenet-Catalano, the Ambassador of France to Cyprus to offer her support to our work.  It was good to see. Then it was story time. We split into groups, creating fictional stories of pieces of litter whether by narrative or dance. Work complete, it was now time to say our goodbyes. I felt a bit sad as I’d met so many nice and open-minded people. I also felt that with more time, we could have done more there.


Has my thinking changed since the course? I believe so. I definitely have a greater understanding of the issues. Enough certainly to want to put things into practice, both as a practitioner in Little Gems and as part of my wider life in Cyprus. I'm determined to do my bit and to encourage others to do theirs. This planet is worth saving. I am glad that I went on the Boot Camp. I hope that it is well supported and continues to inspire people for many years to come.


Lavinia works with our 3-6 years old children. She is an Early Years graduate that now also has the Montessori expertise added to her portfolio. Lavinia is part of Little Gems Montessori's ECO committee and has developed a passion for our planet and constantly updates us on happenings and schemes that she wishes for us all to participate in. Should you want to learn more about ECO initiatives, in particular related to the oceans, get in touch!

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