Off to the beach!

 By Simonetta Sandri

A beach-cleaning campaign, raising awareness of our environment; a shared home with a delicate balance that needs looking after. The sea, which brings us wind, thoughts and memories, carries with it a lot of debris. Debris belonging to humans, who don’t care, who don’t look, who don’t pick up after themselves. Why not organize an unforgettable day on which we all get together and do something about it? A day that will live on in the memories of our children. Eni Algeria has done it…

Algeria’s beaches are incredible. Just think of the scene near the Roman city of Tipaza, founded by the Phoenicians and transformed by Emperor Claudio, where mountain peaks reflect in the deep blue of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. But that’s not all.

“In the spring, Tipaza is inhabited by gods and the gods speak in the sun and the scent of absinthe leaves, in the silver armour of the sea, in the raw blue sky, the flower-covered ruins, and the great bubbles of light among the heaps of stone. At certain hours of the day the countryside is black with sunlight. The eyes try in vain to perceive anything but drops of light and colours trembling on the lashes. The thick scent of aromatic plants tears at the throat and suffocates in the vast heat. At the edge of the landscape I can hardly see the black bulk of Chenoua, which strikes its roots into the hills that surround the village and moves with a slow and sure rhythm in order to settle in the sea”. Albert Camus

The beaches of this sun-kissed, wind-carved country are unique, often unexplored, places where words blend with the footprints of gulls. But where (and when) humans explore they often bring carelessness and negligence, to use “politically correct” terms. As Alessandro Baricco writes; as time passes, the sea clears and, at night, the tide hides. That same tide also brings rubbish from afar, usually at the end of winter. With the help of currents.
Eni Algeria chose a beach to embrace them all: and so it was that we came to spend a day cleaning Sidi Fredj, in Algiers. A beautiful gesture that turned into an unforgettable memory. All together, young and old removing the debris and rubbish from the beach’s soft, sinuous sands. The main protagonists are the children of Eni colleagues, that slice of humanity that represents what’s to come, the hope for a fairer and more caring future. More than 100 people, including children, spent a whole day together, armed with bags, gloves and palettes to clean up this place full of fun, jokes, laughter and long walks.

From dawn to dusk. Participants included representatives of the Association d’Entraide Populaire Familiale in Faveur des Handicapés Mentaux, with which Eni Algeria collaborates on the “recycle water bottles” project; a day that ends with a plenary session on “eco-citizenship” and “eco-actions” at home, work, school and doing the shopping. The Municipality, seeing the engagement of so many happy, cheerful and smiling, not to mention enthusiastic, people, immediately sent reinforcements; regular beach visitors asked for gloves and bags and joined in. Also some fishermen joined the group…
The picnic organized for everyone, after hours of hard and worthwhile work (over 4,500 kg of waste was collected), was a beautiful display of good-humoured solidarity, with no barriers. Then came an intense and touching moment, when a bottle containing a message in Arabic was found: a moving prayer for a husband’s deceased wife…
Following on from this great day was the launch of a campaign called “HSE for Youth” to raise awareness amongst Eni colleagues’ children and grandchildren of current social and environmental issues.
We took a good look at the Russian Subbotnik, the Saturday in May dedicated to environmental volunteering initiatives, which originated in 1919 at the Moscow-Kazan railway depot, when 15 workers sacrificed their Saturday night to repair locomotives that would serve the country. From that moment on, they decided to continue the experience on a regular basis. Thus the Subbotnik, or working Saturday, was born. The word combines Subbota (Saturday) and Nik (voluntary day of unpaid work for the good of society). An important concept of collective consciousness. A strong civic sense of working for the common good on the part of volunteers themselves, their families and all citizens. This fascinated us. In Russia, in Algeria, all over; these volunteering days now happen around the world.

Onwards and upwards: Eni Algeria’s next target: road safety.

READ MORE: A time of waste, not a waste of time by Amanda Saint

about the author
Simonetta Sandri