Waisai_morning_1 In News

Good Morning Waisai

It’s great to be back in Waisai. I’ve seen some familiar faces already. One of the guides on the jungle expedition, (who happens to work for a forest and wildlife conservation program), offered me a free place to stay while I get situated. I took him up on the offer and stayed for a night until I found something more permanent.

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There was a young German fellow named Timon who was also staying there while working on a project. He had just returned from a jungle expedition himself, collecting species of frogs. He was in the jungle for two weeks. Now, just so you get an idea of how remote and undiscovered this region is to the western world, Timon numbered all the frog species. There were over 50 in his collection. I asked him whether any of these were new species…his answer, “practically all of them”.

After a few calls made by Ranny a place was found to call home. Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit under the weather since I left Canada. I had a cold at first, and now I have a bit of a fever. I’ve been in my new place for a few days now, only leaving to grab some water and a bite to eat.

Ranny will be away with guests until the 15th, so while I can, thought it was a great time to describe what happened with the Clean Raja Ampat campaign after I left earlier this year. I had to leave soon after our very successful Clean Raja Ampat movement; too soon, but everything just happened so quickly near the end of my trip. I found out within a week of being home that the government issued us a substantial grant. After hearing this news, some of us looked into creating a foundation in Indonesia. Unfortunately as others involved couldn’t agree on the direction or an effective use of the money, I disassociated myself from that particular group. The positive news is that we were recognized by the government; they valued our efforts and are willing to support these types of initiatives.

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Fast forward to now. On my first full day in Waisai I decided to visit my good friend Yuning; the local artist whom I have worked closely with in the past. We went for a walk down to the promenade. The area was completely littered with garbage (this particular area was a key focus for the Clean Raja Ampat campaign).

Election season is here and there was large rally held the night before. Unfortunately, no one had the forethought to place garbage bins in the area; we know what happens when a large crowd of people gathers together. Water bottles were passed throughout the crowd and subsequently thrown on the ground.

There were eight gentlemen nearby and they all joined us in helping with a clean-up. Yuning made a couple of phone calls, and down came their party candidate to offer us money for lunch and water while we cleaned.

There is now a recycling facility in Waisai. It was built here about a month ago and is called the Garbage Bank. It’s the same facility we transported our bottles by ferry to in Sorong last spring. The system is very inefficient, but it is a system none the less. At least this area now has a place to bring plastic; it is time to move on to other initiatives. These initiatives include, buying a piece of land in Waisai and building a waste management center where we can sort, recycle and incinerate waste. We are also working on plans to construct a large boat with a built in compactor for collections throughout the islands. People also need a financial incentive to collect plastics, so we will be working with the government to implement a tax on all plastic bottles sold in the area.

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Once we have a sustainable system, our goal is to move onto other parts of Indonesia. We’ve already had a great deal of interest in what we doing. We just need to figure out the best plan of attack and then streamline the processes as much as possible.

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