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Romani Community Aides Trash Removal from the Valmasque ...

Romani Community Aides Trash Removal from the Valmasque River in Trois-Moulins, France

Shouldered by local volunteers and 15 people from the Romani community, the Organization for Ecological Rescue (l’Organe de sauvetage écologique) cleaned up the historic site of Trois-Moulins. Pieces of tile, windows, and even a car motor. It was like finding an open air bric-a-brac shop just outside of the Antibes banks along the Valmasque river.

Aqueduc, Antibes, France

Shouldered by local volunteers and 15 people from the Romani community, the Organization for Ecological Rescue (l'Organe de sauvetage écologique) cleaned up the historic site of Trois-Moulins.

Pieces of tile, windows, and even a car motor. It was like finding an open air bric-a-brac shop just outside of the Antibes banks along the Valmasque river.  

“It’s scandalous,” rumbles Édouard Feinstein, president of the Organization for Ecological Rescue. With “close to three tons of trash collected” in the zone of Trois-Moulins, the irrevocable conclusion of the 30 people involved is that “everyone needs to be made aware of the situation.”

A message conveyed by the team of volunteers from that day, who continue to work tirelessly on the riverbanks to the song of the cicadas.  

“The place is truly beautiful. The greenery is lush and the aqueduct ought to be protected!” vociferates Alain Willay, loyal defender of the environment and member of the Organization for Ecological Rescue. Determined and dedicated, like his fellow workers, all wearing fluorescent vests and protective gloves: no question of throwing in the towel in the face of the magnitude of this task.

And even less hesitation in the face of scratches and mosquito bites as shown by the smile worn by Karine Ratto. The 40-something came from Grasse in order to be a part of the clean up efforts, “it feels good to give some of yourself for a good cause.”

Valmasque River, Antibes, France

An ecological project, but also a social one for Viorel Costache. For the third consecutive year, the president of the Prales association (an association for the welfare of the Romani people) came to lend a hand with 15 Romani volunteers from the Antibes region: “They want to show their determination. They know how to and want to integrate themselves.”

Joining him is Nicoletta, the adolescent of 15 years huffing and puffing after three hours of trash collection. Brave, she glances at the bags of trash waiting to be collected by the Casa (the communal agglomeration of the Provence-Alpes and Alpes-Maritimes regions).

An important help for the active members who, like Aurélie Amari, 34 years old, see the state of the site beginning to improve: “there is ten times less garbage than there was some years ago … we can speak of a small progress.” But now is not the time to declare victory, but rather to think of the next moves. The president of the Organization for Ecological Rescue already knows that he will return: “the mayor has already given me the form to fill out for next year.”

A show of trust, but also of necessity. The reality where one must clean up another’s mistake in order to preserve the planet.

Do you feel that it is effective to combine social/political movements with environmental movements? Is it an important part of intersectional activism or does it confuse messages?

Original article, originally published in French here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Carmen Phillips is a graduate of Oberlin College and is currently pursuing her masters in French Translation at Kent State University. Carmen spent the last year in Lyon, France teaching English to primary school children and had the opportunity to i...

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