With summer just around the corner most of us have decided it’s time to hit the gym, buy that new swimsuit and stock up on tanning lotion. This year, the bazaar team decided that we would do something different, to help conserve what is left of Kuwait’s natural habitats, by teaming up with the Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat (K’s PATH) Marine Conservation team on a Friday morning clean-up at Sulaibakhat, dubbed the ‘mangrove beach’.
The beach off of Al-Hishan bay was darkened by an overcast sky, but the team was surprised at how clean it actually was. Sure, there were so many plastic remnants and white styrofoam littered across the brown sand, yet it was clear that K’s PATH volunteers had already done a tremendous amount of work. Their teams have been working in this location since 2011. In December of that year, 25 volunteers from the American International School of Kuwait removed 2,000 KG of waste in four hours. Just a few months later the team had cleared most of the waste covering the vegetation, and shrubs were growing from the sand. It was then that they decided to continue their efforts on a weekly basis to preserve the naturally occurring mangrove trees by this lonesome beach and the fauna that live amongst it.
We arrived in our closed-toe shoes and long pants, garbage bags in hand and latex gloves. With hand sanitizers in our pockets and a stash of water and snacks on the table nearby, we were ready to help with the clean-up. Angelique Bhattacharjie, a K’s PATH Director of Programs greeted us with a wide smile, and an infectious energy. She stood beside a row of shovels, and a box of gardening tools and gloves as she gave us tips on what to pick up and how to handle the environment around us.
K’s PATH began in 2005 with the mission to provide services for domesticated and wild animals in Kuwait. They have an open door shelter that accepts any and every animal in to their care. Their facilities accepted more than 10,000 companion animals and have seen everything from hamsters to baboons and ferrets. With the help of more than 850 volunteers aged between 6 and 70 years old, hailing from more than 15 nations, the marine conservation group has done more than 70 clean-ups, and has removed more than 17,000 kilograms of waste. Most of that waste included plastic items washed up on the shore, bottle caps, broken-down Styrofoam bubbles, discarded juice cartons and even the odd piece of clothing. The saddening reality, however, comes with knowing that all of this washed up waste arrives from other beaches driven by the gulf’s currents, passing boats and unplanned waste management on the part of nearby housing and other buildings.
We went down the sand dune, with our open trash bags. Bhattacharjie warned us to only pick up items that were obviously trash. Anything that had been integrated into the ecosystem, with leaves or brushes growing on it were to be left on the ground. We focused on picking up the remnants of reef-balls and buoys, mangled plastic with moss growing around it and any waste that would present itself as obtrusive to the mangroves and the naturally growing vegetation.
As we sifted through the sand and filled up our bags we heard singing coming from the other side of the beach. High school students from Al Bayan Bilingual School had joined the beach clean-up. For 17-year-old Jamal Khudur, this was an opportunity he had been waiting for.
“I’ve been very busy with school work,” the 11th grader told bazaar. “I had to try because everyone said I should. I feel really tired, but it feels good. There are very few marshes left here in Kuwait, I feel like let’s save at least one.”
By the end of our clean-up the bazaar team, tired but happy, took a rest on a bench made by one of the volunteers out of material found on the beach. At the end of the two-hour mission, it was a great morning that truly refreshed our faith in the volunteer community here in Kuwait.
Email [email protected] to sign up for the K’s PATH Volunteer Orientation which is held the first Saturday of each month at the Wafra Shelter from 11 am to 1 pm. If you don’t have time to volunteer they are always on the look out for tools (rakes, spades etc.,) rubbish bags and gloves. Any donations are welcome. Contact them through their website at www.kspath.org or connect with them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.