Project born in the Algarve goes to São Tomé to teach how to clean the oceans

Two Straw Patrol volunteers will work with Sao Tome children for three weeks

The environmental awareness project Straw Patrol, born in the Algarve, will go international and will arrive in São Tomé in the next few days. Carla Lourenço, the promoter of the project, will be in this country for three weeks to work with more than 600 children, but also with the community of the small town of Água -Ize.

The marine biologist will leave for São Tomé and Príncipe on Tuesday, December 3rd, and will take books and school supplies in her luggage, as well as a lot of knowledge about ways to protect the oceans.

«The “Heroes of the Sea” campaign is part of a project that we have been developing since Straw Patrol started, in 2016, in Faro. Since that time, we have been going to schools to talk about the problem of marine litter and the impacts it has on the oceans, on species and for us, humans», told Carla Lourenço to Sul Informação.

«I was the person who most encouraged these lectures, but as I left the Algarve, I ended up being a little disconnected from that work. Now, there have been three students from the University of Algarve, who, in the meantime, have joined the Straw Patrol, which have guaranteed them, as well as the cleaning actions, which continue to take place», he added.

In the meantime, and as she had “compulsorily to take a vacation”, the marine biologist trained at UAlg decided to “dedicate this period to giving lectures and to continue to raise awareness and work on this theme of the ocean, but in São Tomé”.

«I'll go on Tuesday and I'll stay for three weeks. There is another volunteer, Rúben Silva, who will go later and will stay for two weeks», he said.


Trash collected by Straw Patrol in Ria Formosa


During this period, Carla and Rúben will «work with 600 children, in schools, where we will give lectures. Of course, conditions will be very different from what we have here, at various levels, so the approach will have to be a little different. At the same time, actions with the community are combined».

The “Heroes of the Sea” campaign will be carried out in conjunction with local associations, mainly with the Dimix mission «an association very dedicated to working with children. We got in touch with them to understand how we could work together».

“This is an association that has done a very good job in the issue of educating children, supporting them after school. It focuses a lot on Sónia Pessoa, who is in the field every day and who, just last October, managed to place 33 street children in school, because their parents were unable to have them studying. They saw their friends going to school, but they couldn't go and they were exposed to all kinds of risks,” he explained.

"From the first moment we realized that this was the project we wanted to collaborate and support," said Carla Lourenço to Sul Informação.

Thus, Straw Patrol also launched a campaign to collect school supplies, “because there is a big shortage. We made a video, which is online, and we've already managed to collect a lot of things. I'm talking about pencils, pens, rulers and the like. We also received from an association a shipment of 80 books by Gui, on the problem of plastic, which we will take with us».


Carla Lourenço_Photo Pedro Lemos|Sul Informação


Those responsible for the project born in the Algarve also contacted Associação Marapa, responsible for the Tatô program  of sea turtle conservation in São Tomé.

It's just that, Carla Lourenço pointed out, there is already a lot of work being done in São Tomé and Príncipe around turtles.

«Now in December, in São Tomé, it is the high peak of the turtles. The turtles that were born there go to São Tomé to spawn and the entire population has been very polite and working hard to preserve this species. And here there is a very strong connection to Straw Patrol, as it all started with a sea turtle that had a straw in its nose», he recalled.

São Tomé also has several “protection, conservation and education projects on sea turtles”.

With this in mind, Straw Patrol decided to focus its efforts “not only on the problem of turtles and the protection of the ocean, but also on marine litter and climate change and on how these children can be true “Heroes of the Sea ”».

This reward it can also be won by adults, who will also be targets of the campaign.

In addition to promoting «weekend cleaning actions with the communities», Carla and Rúben will help the population of Água-Izé «to work on this theme of plastic and ocean protection».

«They have some machines from a project called Precious Plastic, which are four plastic recycling machines that they managed to acquire last year. They live on an island and the waste they produce, for the most part, is burned. We want them to see that garbage can eventually be a raw material that helps them and that it can even be a source of income that they don't have today».


Izé water


To take the Straw Patrol project and the “Heroes of the Sea” campaign to São Tomé, the two volunteers will pay almost all the expenses out of their own pocket.

«The trips, vaccinations, accommodation and everything else, we are the ones who will pay for it. THE IATI Insurance He offered to give us voluntary insurance. But everything else was our responsibility», said Carla Lourenço.

«There was also a photographer from Viseu, the Philip Coelho, who made themselves available to provide us with material so that we could capture images. We want to photograph and video record this entire experience to try to turn it into a documentary», he added.

The campaign also has the support of Maria Bulk, the first zero-waste store in Portugal, of the Centro Ciência Viva by Tavira, from the Living Science Center of Alviela It's from Pavilion of Knowledge.

Carla and Rúben will also bear the costs of luggage, as they will take all the school supplies collected in their hold bags. “The cost of a third suitcase in the hold, with Gui's books, will be covered by Oceanos sem Plástico”, he concluded.

Straw Patrol is a volunteer project on ocean education and protection. Since its inception in 2016, Straw Patrol lectures have reached more than 4200 people and beach cleanups have involved around 2000 volunteers.