Gaya Island - a painfully inevitable normality!
The Malaysian stopover of Race for Water is in full swing! The press conference with the media and officials over, it is the turn of more than 800 children to come onboard our mixed propulsion catamaran over the next fortnight and listen carefully to what can be done on a daily basis to avoid further pollution, such as, at their level, applying the rule of the 5 R’s that must be hammered home!!!! (Refuse – Reduce – Reuse – Repair – Recycle).
“On Race for Water, there is life on board and life ashore, in search of understanding the problem of waste. Waste that is unfortunately too often poorly managed in these countries of Southeast Asia with nearly 84% of waste that is considered litter, poorly managed or just dumped in our oceans…
That day, the Foundation teams, always taking real action, accompanied by teams from the organisation NOW! (Local NGO supporting us on this stopover) went to the island of Gaya, located just opposite Kota Kinabalu, to visit the heart of one of the villages, home to refugees from the Philippines, built on piles, over the sea.
The village is home to more than 1500 refugees with children, families and animals who live just a few centimetres above a layer of plastic waste sometimes buried several metres deep. It is terrifying, shocking and unfortunately, these young children whom we talked to have never known anything other than this universe of plastic, more and more plastic, everywhere! For them, throwing waste into the sea and living on metres of waste buried in the seabed has become an inevitable normality!
After some exchanges with the inhabitants of this village, located on the east coast of the island, we decided to visit the west coast. We walked about 300 metres to another village swept by a light wind! It was not as hot (felt like 34 °!) and the air was more breathable. We were taken in by the spectacular sight of this village with its multiple colours, with its roofs, windows and walls made of recycled wood. It is almost architectural design. In a nutshell, it is artistic and elegant and even clean in appearance!
Then we noticed the sound of ripples under the piles and our eyes focused at sea level… The music began!
The continuous movement of the sea made tons of floating plastic waste “sing”; plastic against plastic, PET against PP or HDPE, there was something for all musical tastes and all colours.
There is before us a world crying out, shouting out and nobody hears it!
We ended our stopover on Gaya Island by organising a meeting between our R4WF teams and more than 600 children from these refugee villages. We met many smiles, all were in uniform, a great discipline reined! And we understood that solutions exist; the best weapon is education. The message is getting across and it is now up to the local authorities to put in place a coherent and coordinated waste management system to finally stop this terrible environmental destruction.
Thank you for your welcome and these moments of sharing!
Please stop with plastic pollution in our common oceans !!!!”
Franck David , Race for Water Odyssey’s director
Thank you to our local partners