What is it like to be a volunteer in Andros? Kevin, who came from the United States to volunteer on Andros Routes and Clean Green Andros projects, shares the experience of his first days as a volunteer!
“After eleven days on Andros now volunteering with Andros Routes and Clean Green Andros, I have to say that I am having a wonderful time! I have already taken part in numerous tasks that both organizations engage in such as cleaning vegetation on trails, improving the footpaths, maintaining way markers, painting sign posts, and building new gates with Andros Routes and doing beach clean-ups, nurdle hunts, cleaning garbage along footpaths, tracking and recording recycling points and bulk waste around the island, and touring the main recycling centers with Clean Green Andros. I really love the variety of work I get to do! I have also met and worked with so many great and interesting people from local Andrians, Andrians who have returned to the island after living elsewhere in Greece, and foreigners who have made Andros home for decades. And they all make delicious food to share with me! In addition to the wonderful people I get to work with, I have met many people from the island who already know me from social media posts, so it is like I am a little celebrity here. Some kind soul even offered to sponsor a rental car for me so that I can more easily get to work and explore the island.
Through my work with Andros Routes and Clean Green Andros and even the movie Little England that I watched in the open-air cinema in Chora I have learned a lot about the history of the island and how these teams are working to preserve that history and beauty of Andros. My visits to the main waste collection site in Gavrio as well as my tour of the recycling center in Kypri taught me about the hard work that many people on the island are doing not only to keep Andros clean and beautiful but for the greater environment as well which is really inspiring. One of my tasks with Clean Green Andros has been to record any bulk waste I find, and I have been really impressed to find that many of the items I have recorded and taken pictures of are often gone by the next time I pass by within just a few days!
While the work is certainly enjoyable, it is definitely tiring and often times very tedious, specifically when painting the sign posts. However, it is equally rewarding when meeting hikers enjoying the freshly maintained trails or seeing locals separating their recycling into the various bins rather than throwing it in the garbage or worse on the ground. It is even more rewarding for me personally as I often use the trails maintained by Andros Routes in my free time as I run to train for my upcoming ultramarathon. It feels wonderful to give back and help to maintain something that I also enjoy so much. Recently, while I was running back towards my room in Batsi, a puppy began to follow me for nearly 5km and I was already planning how I would have to introduce him to my dog at home! Fortunately, he couldn’t keep up and eventually turned around and I saw him back in his village of Katakoilos the next day. This friendly little guy made up for the more mean and aggressive dog that wouldn’t let me pass by him on a trail earlier on that day.
Kevin is a volunteer in the frame of Cyclades Green Volunteers program led by Cyclades Preservation Fund and supported by British Embassy Athens.