Volunteers cleaning a pond.
POND ISLAND--In an effort to shed light on the need to reduce plastic, promote teamwork and clean the environment, St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers and several American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine students took time out to clean the area around Pond Island on February 22.
A number of Pond Island residents also came out to assist in the exercise, which involved 10 AUC students who participated as part of their Community Action Day exercise. A total of 25 volunteers participated.
Meadowlands assisted in the initiative by providing a garbage bin where the trash collected was deposited, making the volunteers’ work much easier.
Volunteers used buckets to transport garbage from a gutter in Pond Island during the cleaning exercise. Items such as beer bottles, cans and all kinds of plastic materials were pulled out of the gutter.
No additional garbage was created during the activity, as Tzu Chi only uses reusable cups and plates, as was the case during snack time during the exercise.
At the end of the clean-up, coordinator for the AUC students Prithvi Patel expressed hope that students had been able to be of great help in cleaning the area.
“All of us had a great time cleaning up Pond Island and we wanted to thank you for accommodating us,” Patel said.
“We decided to come out here and help the community to clean everything up. It’s really, really nice, because on campus we don’t get to see this side of the island often and it’s good to come out here. The hospitality has been great and it’s really fun and hopefully we get to be back soon,” said one of the participating AUC students.
Another student said the group felt warmly welcomed and indicated that it was good to be away from campus to see and assist on another side of the island. Yet another said it was fun to be able to assist and expressed hope to be able to help out next semester as well.
Tzu Chi volunteer Felix van der Kraats, who assisted in coordinating residents to help, said he is happy to be part of the Tzu Chi Foundation. He described the foundation as being blessed and persistent in its desire to help others, not just in St. Maarten, but around the world.
Tzu Chi St. Maarten Commissioner Sandra Cheung thanked all the AUC medical doctors in training, the foundation’s volunteers and residents who came out to assist, for rolling up their sleeves to help clean the area. She also expressed gratitude to Meadowlands for providing the garbage bin for the exercise and to everyone else who assisted in one way or another.