by Helena LäksChoose a language:
26. April 2017, 11:42
26. April 2017, 11:42
A year ago, Andreas had no idea about Let’s Do It! (LDI!). After working several years in Scotland, he decided to come back to his island on the Mediterranean Sea, to see how the situation had changed. As he had no more connections in his home country, he attended a conference about environmental issues in Cyprus. This is where he met with the Commissioner of Environment. Only two weeks after that meeting, he got a call from that person asking him to run the LDI! campaign. He simply said yes. That’s how his journey for a cleaner planet begun.
The trash problem in Cyprus is big. It’s the country with the third highest waste production per capita with 624 kg, according to Eurostat. In comparison, the smallest amount of garbage is produced by Romania, with 272 kg. It doesn’t make it the best waste management friendly country though, having 97% of that waste landfilled.
“We are still struggling with waste management,” Andreas says, “people need to take the specific trash, to a specific place and like all countries in the world, we have a problem of dumping trash in illegal sites,” he adds.
In Cyprus, the cleanups started in 2012. This year, almost all the people of the team were already in charge last year. That was the first time the team wasn’t starting from zero. “We are proud of that we got stronger this year,” comments Andreas. For sure they can be. Volunteers for the 2017 cleanup had more than the doubled compared to last year, reaching 35,000 people, 4% of the population. As it was only a pilot project, we can definitely expect more volunteers involved for the World Cleanup Day 2018.
What an accomplishment for someone who had no idea in what kind of business he was engaging himself. He recalls: “I had no idea what Let’s Do It! was. I thought it was just a national cleanup campaign but when I researched it I understood the huge challenge behind it. I just said yes because it was a means to develop my skills and network since I have been living abroad for a long time and, of course, I wanted to give something back to the community.” Nevertheless, nothing would have been possible without the whole team working with him. “Everything came true thanks to the team effort. I want to thank all of them for the hard work they put into it,” Andreas emphasizes.
When he came to Estonia last January for the Leaders Academy and the World Cleanup Conference, leaders had to choose a word to describe Andreas. He wasn’t surprised to hear his favourite one – enthusiasm. This word derives from the greek word enthousiasmos, which means to find your god inside you.
Since joining LDI! he is doing his best to fit the description, beginning with his behaviour regarding waste. As a leader, he is showing the path. “Everything is now recycled in my place, I have two composters in my backyard and this results to the minimal amount of waste generated. By understanding that as an individual I do what aligns with me. This can further influence others, giving me the needed satisfaction to fulfil me as a human being,” he explains.
Andreas is a hard worker. During the day, he works for the environment department of Cyprus and also for his research company he created with his partners. When he comes back in the evening, it’s time for Let’s Do It! His free time is dedicated to changing the future for good, and that’s what he tells to his friends: “My jobs may fill my wallet but LDI! fills my heart, my soul, this is what it is for me.” At times he lacks motivation, he just has to think about somewhere else close by: “Half an hour from Cyprus, if you take the plane, you go to Syria, where people are being killed. They have nothing that I have. So, this is my motivation.”
As you may know, Cyprus is divided into two communities. Greek Cypriots are living in the south while Turkish Cypriots are in the north. Long story short, LDI! Cyprus is only working in the southern part of the island. There is only a school in the Turkish side of Nicosia, the capital, where Greek children can go study. They were part of the cleanup day this year, yet not allowed to clean outside. They participated through drawing and painting workshops, as well as planting trees.
Political issues make the work harder for Andreas and his team, but he is hoping for improvement as he explains: “I had a meeting with a Turkish guy a month ago. We sat together and talk about how to develop LDI! without all the political issues. It is difficult, but we are hoping to develop a pilot to test it over the next couple of months. There is a village called Pyla where Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots still live happily together. Therefore, Pyla can be the perfect place where LDI! could be adopted and both communities could work together to pass the message that as long as there is enough will, the nationalities, religions and controversies which belong to the past, can easily be overcome.”
Time will show us what is happening there; this could be an example for many areas in the world. For now, Andreas needs to be patient, and that’s precisely his best quality “because you have to listen to everybody, without reacting in a way you will destroy relations with people.” His ability to listen to people and talk when necessary is helping him a lot: “I think this is what’s making me a good partner.” he concludes.
On the 15th of September, 2018 millions of people like Andreas will be taking real action, united for the Let’s Do It! World initiated World Cleanup Day 2018. Join us to feel what Andreas shared with us after his week in Estonia.
“That week I didn’t travel the world, I just found the world in a room. I found determined people from war zones and others from the poorest nations. I met dreamers and doers who have a vision of our common future. I shook old hands, hugged young shoulders, kissed beautiful faces. I listened to speakers and spoke to listeners, felt special and I hope made others feel the same. I sensed the unstoppable heartbeat of enthusiastic leaders, breathed the smell of freedom, a free-of-waste-world. I ensured that the human race has not yet gone extinct. Thank you for raising each other up for a better world….a world we have inherited from our future generations!”
By Jérôme Scherer, Let’s Do It! World PR & Network Development Team