International Coastal Cleanup Day 2015: Return to Fort Rocky


At six in the morning, we volunteers squeezed into a bus in Kingston, water bottles in hand. We were all a little quiet (sleepy, in other words).

It was International Coastal Cleanup Day 2015, coordinated as always by the Jamaica Environment Trust with major sponsors the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Tourism Ministry’s Clean Coasts Initiative, Recyle Now (Recyling Partners of Jamaica) and Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica. The global effort is coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy. As we turned towards the sea, I admired Kingston Harbour in the early morning light, a blue-grey sheen reflecting the sky. It hadn’t quite made up its mind whether to be a sunny day or not (it soon did – yes, another hot and almost cloudless day). Joggers and walkers trotted along the path by the airport road, on the harbor side. I noticed with pleasure mangrove seedlings planted, and fenced off, in various areas. A large area of mangrove was destroyed by China Harbour Engineering Company as they worked on upgrading the airport road in 2011; I am really hoping that the plants will thrive in what is, after all, a Ramsar wetland site.

Early morning "vibes" on the beach at Fort Rocky.
Early morning “vibes” on the beach at Fort Rocky.

At Fort Rocky, the early birds caught the worms – the 1,500 lovely “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” water bottles that virtually flew out of the water bottle tent. As always, the tent for collecting equipment was abuzz with activity. The hard-working volunteers handed out bags and checklists, and gave detailed instructions.

Hot? Did I say it was hot? As we worked under the registration tent in the shadow of a sand dune, we noticed the air was hardly moving. We watched the ever-swelling ranks of volunteers – bright and energetic at first, then slowing down on their return from the beach, where the sun was fearless and Lime Cay floated almost at arm’s reach. At Fort Rocky there is only the thin shade of thorny bushes. The water tent did a roaring trade, with friendly Wata staff providing chilled water from igloos. A man standing on the back of a truck bristling with jelly coconuts was kept busy by a steady stream of customers, machete in hand.

CB Chicken made a statement with their scarlet, branded T shirts. They were among the early ones, too!
This team made a statement with their scarlet, branded T shirts. They were among the early ones, too!

There were some “political” visitors, of course, and they stayed just the right length of time before heading back to whatever politicians do on a Saturday morning. Shopping? Minister of Tourism Wykeham McNeill was there, of course (his Ministry has been a major supporter of JET’s efforts, and kudos to them!) and Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown-Burke was there with her KSAC team. I must congratulate the Mayor too; along with her industrious Town Clerk Robert Hill she is determinedly cleaning up the garbage-strewn, rat-infested downtown areas where illegal vendors ply their trade. Very challenging work, but it must be done.

The American Airlines team leaders checking in.
The American Airlines team leaders checking in.

As for the teams… There were so many organizations, it is hard to mention them all. Government agencies, non-governmental organizations of every stripe, private sector companies, youth groups, schools, university student halls and associations, service clubs, the TEF’s Tourism Action Clubs… You name it. What struck me though (and I don’t know why I had never noticed before) – not one church group has participated in any of the cleanups I have volunteered for. I do not recall even one. Why is this?

The National Solid Waste Management Agency's team leader signs up.
The National Solid Waste Management Agency’s team leader signs up.

It was not all a tiring slog, however. MC Michael Abrahams gave out important and useful facts on solid waste management, in between interludes of some great music. Cleanup Day always starts off with Bob Marley; by ten o’clock it had graduated to some dancehall, which had some of the young volunteers using up their last reserves of energy in the sun. And at ten, a flash mob organized by Respect Jamaica – a group of dancers in bright yellow T shirts – burst through the fort’s gateway and danced to a version of the “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” theme song.

Then, time to squeeze back into the bus. We were more talkative on the way back; there was a satisfied feeling that it had been a job well done. We now look forward to the final tally from JET, in terms of numbers of volunteers and tonnage of garbage collected; Jamaica is aiming to break into the top ten of cleanups worldwide.

Here are a few pictures I took during the morning; just a little glimpse of what was happening. I did not walk down the beach, where volunteers scattered right down to the lighthouse and up towards Port Royal itself. They even cleaned up along the roadside.

Here’s a quote to consider, from the always sensible and inspiring Dalai Lama:

“A clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility toward others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than we found it.”

And of course, there were the mountains of garbage. This is just the plastic bottles.
And of course, there were the mountains of garbage. This is just the plastic bottles section.
A young student from Tarrant Primary School tried out some dancehall moves at the end of the morning.
A student from Tarrant Primary School tried out some new dance moves at the end of the morning.
One of my favorite teams was J-FLAG. Staff turned out in their numbers along with members of the LGBT community. Everyone loved their anti-discrimination T shirts with the "We Are Jamaicans" message on the back.
One of my favorite teams was J-FLAG. Staff turned out in their numbers along with members of the LGBT community. Everyone loved their anti-discrimination T shirts with the “We Are Jamaicans” message on the back. Great community service!
The KOOL FM family pose for their picture in front of an inflatable "Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica" bag. Note the latest style in T shirts (full length for children!)
The KOOL FM family pose for their picture in front of an inflatable “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” bag. Note the latest style in T shirts (full length for children!)
"Army of Good": Student leader Germaine Bryan was there, representing the University of the West Indies'
“Army of Good”: Student leader Germaine Bryan was there, representing the University of the West Indies’ Actuarial Science students.
The media were all there - including the ubiquitous Dervan Malcolm of Power 106 FM with his roving microphone. Here he is waxing lyrical! While Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica Ambassador and comedian Bella Blair watches in amusement.
The media were all there – including the ubiquitous Dervan Malcolm of Power 106 FM with his roving microphone. Here he is waxing lyrical! While Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica Ambassador and comedian Bella Blair watches in amusement. Dervan is a marvel!
The St. John Ambulance was there. They were a reassuring presence, as one volunteer who was an asthmatic needed help. This St. John representative helped her to breathe.
The St. John Ambulance was there. They were a reassuring presence, as one volunteer who was an asthmatic needed help. This St. John representative helped her to breathe.
I think the youngest team was the Duhaney Park Primary School. Well done, children!
I think the youngest team was the Duhaney Park Primary School. Well done, children!
Some Jamaica Defence Force soldiers were on hand, just in case there was any trouble. They were from the Port Royal Coast Guard base.
Some Jamaica Defence Force soldiers were on hand, just in case there was any trouble. They were from the Port Royal Coast Guard base.

 

 

 


4 thoughts on “International Coastal Cleanup Day 2015: Return to Fort Rocky

    1. Yes, isn’t she lovely! She was so bright and funny – part of the publicity team that did the flash mob advertising “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica.” It went brilliantly, yes – last year Jamaica was #12 in the world on International Cleanup Day. Great turnout, again!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for writing about international beach clean up day, Emma, and being such a stalwart volunteer for many years. It was a good day – numbers will begin coming in this week, and we will soon know if we made the target of 10,000 volunteers. Thanks for playing your part.

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    1. It’s my pleasure, Diana! It’s really an awesome undertaking for JET over the years – but everything went so smoothly on Saturday – congrats! I hear there was a great turnout in western Jamaica too so hope JET reaches 10,000. All the best to you and your great team of “Jetters”! 🙂

      Like

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