By Chris Elliott….
One of the most cared for and treasured emblems of any nation is their National Flag and sadly on occasions it can become a target for extremists.
So it was on a warm sunny day when members of the Civil Emergency Service Volunteers drove to Lefkoşa to meet with students from the Girne American University at the headquarters of Sivil Savunma (Civil Defence). From here they were taken in a fleet of vehicles to the site of the gigantic Turkish Republic of North Cyprus flag which is made from rocks on the side of the mountain near to the village of Taşkent.
The purpose of the trip for all of these volunteers was the cleaning of the national flag on its mountain site before the next painting of the flag takes place and this is what the CESV volunteers had to say about their day out.
By Claire Lamb
“It was a bit of a blowy day when members of the CES(v) met up with the lads from Girne Civil Defence and students from GAU at Sivil Savunma headquarters.
We were all issued with matching T shirts and baseball caps before setting off up the mountain for the big flag clean! After bouncing around in CD Land Rover we arrived at the side of the flag to the sound of music and warm olive rolls for breakfast.
Although we knew the flag was big we hadn’t quite realised exactly how big until we started spreading out across the surface. Our merry little band joined forces with the Lefkosa CD (who we’ve worked closely with in the past) and more university students. With great organisation each group was sent off to a different area of the mountain armed with picks and rubbish bags. Unfortunately for us we were at the top of the flag on the far side so it felt as if we had done a full day’s work before we even got to our destination!
We all set to either hacking out the shrubby growth, weeding or collecting up rubbish. Back breaking work made all the more difficult by having to cling on to the side of the mountain. The CD guys set fire to the bigger bushes and burnt off a lot of the growth, keeping a close watch to make sure the flames didn’t spread out of control in the breeze. After 2 hours of work and a lot of clear space between the rocks we were recalled back to “base” ready to set off to the picnic site ready for a well earned lunch of doner and a drink.
It was great to see everyone mingling and swapping stories of the day’s events while chilling out. There were a lot of tired faces and the games which had been going to take place after we had eaten were cancelled due to worker fatigue!
After saying our goodbyes we clambered back into the Land Rover to make our way back to HQ, tired and a lot less talkative than we’d been on the way up but honoured to have taken part in a small piece of TRNC history which now leaves the great flag ready for the next team………..the painters!”
Having been part of the original 112 Volunteers and then having followed and written extensively about this group now known as Civil Emergency Service Volunteers (CESV), I cannot help being impressed at the ongoing recognition of this expatriate group by the authorities.
It is a needed source of support which gives first aid training to members of the Police, Fire and Ambulance Services, Schools and other Organisations. Perhaps more importantly on a personal level, through the activities of this group, it is great to see how many nationalities come together just to share in making their homeland what it is, a great place to live!