Forty-five Scouts and Adult Leaders visited and cleaned up some of the shoreline on Robben Island on Monday the 8th of July as their 67 minute tribute and in preparation of Mandela Day on the 18th of July. The Scouts were from three different Scout Troops throughout the Western Cape - 2nd Bergvliet, 1st Monte Vista and 2nd Somerset West. They decided to honour Nelson Mandela by doing a litter sweep of the shoreline of the island. “On arrival we were given a tour of the island and the prison,” explains Peter Otzen, Troop Scouter 2nd Bergvliet. “It was a very humbling and eye opening experience for all of us. Some areas of the prison, especially Mandela’s cell block had a very real and eerie feel. It gave me goose bumps!”
After the visit the Scouts were given a lift to the shoreline where they started to collect the litter and debris. “We collected over 50 big black bags of litter. We also found dead birds, poacher bags, lots of fishing wire and other trash. We were not able to clean up the shoreline completely and it felt like a drop in the ocean after we left,” said Peter. “There is still a lot more work to be done, but we are really happy to have been able to contribute to curbing the effects of the debris for the islands wildlife.,” added Fiona Marinus, Scout Leader from 2nd Somerset West.
Before leaving the island the Scouts spoke to the conservation experts about possible solutions and the effect the litter has on the local wildlife. Robben Island's unique position ensures that a great deal of debris and litter lands up on its shores, which presents a substantial problem for the local wildlife. Of great concern is the risk which litter poses to the endangered Oyster Catchers, which breed in substantial numbers on the island.
“Nelson Mandela is the patron of Scouting in South Africa. He has lead by example and this is our way of giving back – over and above the 67 minutes of community service - and thanking him for all he has done. We had a great time, it was inspiring and I hope in future we can do more. After all as Scouts we aim to leave this world a little better than we found it” says a smiling Quintin Combrink, Troop Scouter of 1st Monte Vista.
SCOUTS South Africa is an independent, non-profit educational movement dedicated to the development of young people in achieving their full potential as individuals and responsible citizens. Central in this programme is a continuous transference of values such as honesty, loyalty, responsibility, respect; all aimed at governing individual behaviour and the development of strong leadership skills that will equip members to be of service to others and to their communities.
Courtesy: SCOUTS South Africa
Picture 1: © World Scout Bureau