Since the beginning of 2015 over a million refugees have arrived by boat to the Greek Islands.
In that time over 600 000 life jackets and 10 000 rubber dinghies have been discarded on the shores of Lesvos.
It is important to support the local residents in the clean-up of the island and find solutions for the environmental problems that have struck the natural habitat and local community. That is why we started the Environmental Project, to join efforts with the locals, volunteers from all NGOs on site and the UK SAR team: Reguee Rescue.
Isabela Cardenas is an instructor at the Castle Climbing Centre and has been heavily involved in the Lighthouse project, spending most of her time in Lesvos running the clean up operation and only returning to the UK sporadically to do some instructing to earn money so she can still pay her rent and bills.
The Castle have supported Isabel, giving her an eco-grant to help fund the amazing work she’s been doing. We’d like to help her more by raising awareness of the great work Refugee Rescue are doing and hope we can inspire some of you to join Isabela and the team. They need more volunteers to help clean up Lesvos, supporting the local residents, the environment and providing safer landing for the refugees that are still arriving.
Chatting to Isabel she told us a bit about the situation she’s experienced in Lesvos. “The lack of a safe passage for people escaping violence and tyranny is forcing them to flee by sea. This has led to a huge negative impact on the environment. Welcome to the other side of the humanitarian crisis! We spend our days in the water and on land; hiking and climbing, picking up rubbish and cutting up discarded boats and then transporting it by sea to spots where the council can collect it”.
Clean up work on the island can be quite demanding as there is a lot of hiking, climbing and heavy lifting involved. Having to climb over hills of punctured abandoned boats and life jackets makes the landing even more difficult in these already steep, rocky shores on the northern coast.
The volunteers visit the remote rocky shores where there are no roads, clearing up the dinghies, life jackets and general waste. The waste is cut up on the beach into manageable pieces and then extracted by rope and by boat. Back at camp the volunteers get involved with upcycling workshops, using material found on the beaches to create bags, chairs and jewellery - or whatever else people fancy creating!
Refuee Rescueare still looking for volunteers; environmental lovers, climbers, skippers and hikers. If this is you and you’d like to help the clean up project you can find all you need to know on their website.
If you can’t spare the time to travel to Greece to volunteer, and we understand not everyone can afford that commitment, but you still want to help, you can make a DONATION which will go directly to providing emergency relief and support to the local communities.