Six months, three countries, three tons of waste to collect: the saga of six French students in Southeast Asia

Six months, three countries, three tons of waste to collect: the saga of six French students in Southeast Asia

Figaro tomorrow – These six French youths arrived in Indonesia with only a backpack, and they have been accompanying the locals for more than a month in collecting waste.

July 4, 2022. Six students from all over France, with shoulders and smiles on their faces, set off for Indonesia. The project is clear and everyone has psychologically prepared: six months, three countries and three tons of waste to collect.

About a year ago, Louise, Nina, Ewan, Beranger, Thibault and Alexandre created MOICA (Maritime and Ocean Cleanup Initiative) as part of their business studies. An ambitious project, built on their indignation to discover the “seventh continent of plastic” in the North Pacific, a vortex of polluting debris that occupies six times the size of France. Arriving in Bali on July 4, they accompany the local Sungai Watch association by cleaning the rivers and installing floating barriers to stop the spread of waste.

The goal is also to raise awareness among tourists and locals, while communicating their findings to Europe via social networks. From their time zone, the six youths say to figaro the beginning of their journey.

“We succeeded, but not without pressure”

It all starts on social networks, with the idea that Beranger conveys it through groups of young students. In September 2021, the team was identified and completed. Before leaving, you still had to cover all costs: “We had to reach a very specific amount with the help of the sponsors and we succeeded, but not without pressure‘, she explained.

With the Covid-19 pandemic,It was hard to trust us. Donors were hesitant because it was an overseas destination and we weren’t sure we could leaveNina resumes, But we never gave upAfter months of working in parallel with their studies, the team benefits from the financial assistance of eight French structures, including Crédit Mutuel and Rotary International. The young association also collaborates with local associations Sungai Watch (Indonesia), Preciousplastic Bangkok (Thailand) and Mealdei (Cambodia). ), which is concerned with the collection, sorting and reuse of waste.

Finally, passports on hand at the time of departure “,Only joy remainsNina says. They say right away,The rivers are so covered in trash that you can’t even see the surfaceAll of them dive deep into the waters of the worn-out mangroves and begin their mission.

Once upon a time the feet in the Denpasar swamp (south of Bali) were surrounded by mangroves – tropical trees -“Realizing that we didn’t work for nothingThis is the first set of waste, she says.cleaning(Cleaning in French) Done worry-free and with great pride.

Garbage collection in South Denpasar, a city in the province of Bali in Indonesia, on July 10, 2022. Moika

Underground plastic 30 cm

We all got slappedBeranger says. For Thibault,Most shocking is the depth of the waste. At first we pick up one or two, then while digging we still come across 30 cm of plastic undergroundIn the set are plastic bags, straws, clothes of all kinds, sandals with a tie, and sometimes a bag with the image of Paris and the Eiffel Tower.

“In the set are plastic bags, straws, clothes of all kinds, sandals with a tie, and sometimes a bag with the image of Paris and the Eiffel Tower.”

We also see animals creating their habitats in the midst of wastecontinue, It is impressive to see how pollution is such an integral part of the landscapeAnd around them are plastic bags stuck in the trees of the fragile ecosystem, enough to forget the hundreds of kilometers that separate them from major Asian cities.

A mangrove tree in southern Denpasar, a city in the province of Bali in Indonesia, on July 10, 2022. Moika

Despite these scenes of desolation, the six students will bring back beautiful stories of sharing with them. “Since our approach is not accusatory, the residents are very open and take our initiative very well.‘ explains Beranger.There is a good atmosphere in cleaning operations Then we are made to develop resistance to small monsters in daily lifeAdd a smile. Snakes, scorpions, spiders, cockroaches and “Mosquitoes!Louise shouts.

Individually,We pay more attention to our wasteBeranger adds, We tell ourselves that in France, no waste can really be achieved because there are alternative solutions, infrastructure, while here the culture of plastic is still firmly established.“.

On August 30, he flew to Thailand to attend a series of awareness-raising workshops with locals and foreigners as he assures Beranger, “If we don’t get to the root of the problem, nothing will change. We want to show Europe what is happening on the other side of the world“.

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