The expedition begins

If you told me a year ago I’d be willingly leaving my little piece of civilization and comfort to go one of the most remote areas of the Seychelles to pick up marine debris, I might have laughed at you. In fact, that’s exactly what I did when my then newly acquainted friend told me about it.

“So you want people to go to Aldabra to do what exactly? Pick up trash that’s washed up onshore? I’d be expected to take leave from work to do this – am I getting paid?” Madness.

Nonetheless, I find myself on this plane – somewhere between Alphonse and Assomption – alongside 11 other individuals as part of the Aldabra Clean Up Project, to do just that.

Granted, I was horribly under-informed about the fabled raised coral atoll at the time. I will forever be grateful to my good friends, Vicky and Jeremy, who opened my eyes to the small part of Aldabra that can in fact be described in words (I was told that when I got there, I’d know the rest). Before I knew it – Aldabra was all I could think of.

I still recall the anxiety of attempting to learn video editing on the fly. I think I must have downloaded at least 10 different programs, trying and discarding them as quickly as an ill-fitting shoe, before finding the one that I could slide into. Thankfully I had taken up snorkeling earlier that year, and had taken hours upon hours of snorkeling videos with my GoPro…which gave me barely enough footage for the 5 minute video submission. Which I checked, double checked, and checked once more for measure whilst trying my hardest to ignore the sound of my own voice before submitting. It was done.

I sent it to the back of my head, with much difficulty – I was surprised at how important this cause had become to me in such a short period.

A few weeks later I received a call from SIF. The week after, we were at State house – 6 newly acquainted balls of nervousness posing as human beings. ACUP was officially launched on 5th June 2018.

Truth be told, the in-between was a blur. It’s shaped by after work meetings, fundraising, team building activities, awareness raising campaigns and clean up after clean up in preparation. It’s been 8 months between the launch and our departure today, and the feeling of it all coming to fruition is an incredible feeling. I feel extremely lucky to be a part of this team, filled with dedicated and driven individuals. Not only the volunteers, but the staff at SIF, who are made of steel beyond reckoning – none of this would be possible without them.

We have just touched down on Assomption. Smiles are on every face. The air thick with excitement.

We are an hour away from where our mission leads us, and we are ready.

– Sam Ramkalawan

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