By Chris Elliott….

Over the past weeks and months we have been observing an increasing interest from TRNC residents of many nationalities coming together and, through their own initiative, organising cleaning of beaches and public places which has also had in many cases local authority support.

I am not aware of all of the groups operating clean up events but starting with the No Straws North Cyprus campaign this attracted support from the No Straws Walkers led by Garry Abbott Taff who have just completed a 5 day 125 mile walk from Cape to Cape across Northern Cyprus to try and raise the need for the use of alternative materials and also recycling and collective efforts to clean up our island.

In a similar fashion a group of Russian volunteers formed by Diana Suyunshalina and friends have been cleaning a number of beaches and had their numbers swelled by other like-minded volunteers who have helped them with additional support being given by the Mayor of Lapta, Mustafa Aktuğ and Alsancak  Mayor,  Fırat Ataser, who both attended cleaning events including the ancient city area of Lambousa.

Here in Central Girne we have seen a number of beach cleaning events that were arranged by Gill Radcliffe of Cafe Deniz in Karakum to which increasing numbers of volunteers are coming to help with the cleaning.

We also noted in Tatlisu that another group had formed with help from Graham McIntyre and were active with cleaning and again with support from the local Mayor, Hayri Orcan  and this is what the Tatlisu Wombles group say on their Facebook page “Keep Tatlisu Clean Tatlisu Temiz tutun” :

What is the Tatlisu Wombles?

The idea of the Wombles is that we can all spare 30 minutes once a month to help clean up our local areas of Tatlisu. We can do it as individuals or with family or as a larger group.

For those too young to remember, the Wombles are fictional pointy-nosed, furry creatures created by Elisabeth Beresford and originally appearing in a series of children’s novels from 1968. They live in burrows, where they aim to help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in creative ways. (Wikipedia).

This past week has seen a high profile cleaning event arranged by Oya Kutsal taking place in the 2,000 year old Roman quarry with many volunteer cleaners being transported by bus to the quarry by the Girne Municipality.

This event attracted much interest and BRT TV producer Engin Dervish was there with his film crew and we should see his report very soon.

Oya Kutsal has been involved with other cleaning events and also promoting preservation of ancient buildings and heritage and this is what she had to say:

“Day by day awareness is getting bigger and wider. New initiatives are being formed in different parts of the north and these groups are trying their best to create a cleaner Cyprus.

I am only one of those who feel for their country and are disturbed by the increasing dirt and the insensitivity in the society.

It is true that our streets are dirty. We all know that. We all see that. Because we see it, we react to it. On the other hand, our historical monuments are much dirtier and neglected than our streets. One cannot imagine the amount and variety of the dirt in the monuments unless he sees it himself. Streets are regularly cleaned by municipalities despite the fact that they will look the same next day. But since monuments are secluded, nobody is aware of the terrible dirt on them even the municipalities. So the dirt builds up and up and there is nobody around to react to it. Here the insensitivity has two destructive sides. Environment and cultural heritage.

My main concern has always been historical monuments. However, in today’s conditions they cannot be separated from the environmental problems. Chrysocava clean up event was a great success. With the great support of the municipality and the volunteers it was deeply cleaned. Students were brought there to help. But before they started cleaning, they were informed about the history of the site. A retired archaeologist was invited to the area to give a short lecture about the place. The residents were visited and asked to protect the site. In three hours the site was clean and people were aware of their cultural heritage.

At the moment I am working on a new project which will include the whole Kyrenia region from Esentepe to Karsiyaka. All the historical sites will be listed and initiatives will be formed in all towns and villages. All sites will be cleaned one by one and we will ask all the municipalities to take action to make all these sites visible. The municipalities will also be asked to organize regular tours to these hidden sites.”

As we have noted the various cleaning activities being planned, we have helped to record these forthcoming events on the very successful Facebook page, Temiz Kibris/A Clean Cyprus click here which in turn has then shared the cleaning event news received with other Facebook pages to raise the profile of the North Cyprus cleanup movement.

Many groups are also coming back to Temiz Kibris/A Clean Cyprus with news and pictures showing the success of their events and this news is then shared again with other pages which reaches an increasing audience with more readers looking for more information and wanting to be part of the clean up movement..