The constant high heat and humidity can’t stop this awesome group of volunteers and staff at Projects Abroad Koh Sdach, Cambodia!

The high temperatures make working very difficult when the wind refuses to blow across our island or when we are torn away from our beloved electric fans. It is those days that the true character and grit of the people we are spending time with shines and not more so than during our recent town clean up. The staff had organised the project’s first town litter pick and it was to be held at the beautiful Buddhist temple that resides behind the village and towards the jungle interior of the island. The temple is home to a number of Buddhist monks and is also unfortunately home to a staggering amount of litter. Our aim was to spend a morning collecting as much litter as possible from the grounds and to separate it into recyclables and non-recyclables. The recyclable plastic would be sold onward and the non-recyclables were to be burned on site. The island has no waste management system in place and, whilst burning litter is less than ideal in terms of its pollution impact, it is the best solution currently available. The alternative is that yet more island waste ends up deposited in the oceans and affecting the local wildlife and coral reefs. Not a day goes by when we don’t see litter of all shapes and sizes in the ocean.

The morning started with bright sunshine beating down upon us and continued that way as we trooped to the temple, donned our protective gloves and armed ourselves with sacks made from fishing net we had collected during Dives Against Debris days. Our enthusiasm was high, much sun cream had been applied and we split into teams to cover more ground. We were joined by a happy group of island school children who eagerly took away the spare nets and filled them with plastic bottles to be recycled. It was a joy to watch their enthusiasm and the fun they had whilst working alongside us. One of the hardest parts of the event was collecting smaller items of litter, such as plastic straws and plastic bottle tops that had wedged themselves into the ground. They were everywhere and it made me realise how much single-use plastic we produce as humans. Those easily discarded items are a waste of finite petroleum resources that we may need in the future for more vital functions. To think we waste petroleum making straws is laughable. What will future generations think?

The morning passed relatively quickly and before we knew it we had collected in excess of 100 Kg of litter, of which 25-30% will be recycled. Many hands working together for one morning was a great success and we rewarded ourselves with a cooling dip in the ocean at nearby Australia beach.



Nicholas and I spent the afternoon providing a lecture for the Green Protectors. The Green Protectors is a group of local school children and young adults who visit the project base weekly to learn about environmental issues. We taught them about the importance of sharks and the plights they face, with a focus on what they could each do to help. Many of the children knew of shark fin soup and, this being an area where it is consumed, I felt our message was reaching the right people. We explained how sharks are vital for the health of coral reef ecosystems and the fisheries that communities such as this one rely upon. We went on to discuss how a live shark is much more valuable economically than one that has been killed for its meat or fins. A live shark has the capacity to draw divers from around the world to see it, visit local restaurants and stay at local accommodation. There is far greater value in that than the small price fetched for a shark’s fins. The group were fascinated and I am hopeful they will take away their interest and knowledge and share it with family and friends.



The mid-thirties heat may have dampened our energy levels that day but it certainly didn’t stop us all from completing valuable conservation and education work. Just another inspiring day in the life of Projects Abroad at Koh Sdach.