International Cleanup Day in Israel - Cleaning up the Negev

In KKL-JNF’s southern region Cleanup Day proceedings focused this year on Beersheba River Park, Ofakim and the Bnei Shimon Regional Council

November 11, 2010 12:39

KKL-JNF. (photo credit: KKL-JNF)

For the tenth year in succession, KKL-JNF once more lead International Cleanup Day in Israel, and once more thousands of youngsters, soldiers, students and organizations joined the general public in activities that took place in woodlands and open spaces. KKL-JNF teams deployed in the north, south and center of the country, and greeted Cleanup Day participants with the traditional uniform for the event: shirts, hats, gloves and bio-degradable garbage bags.

In KKL-JNF’s southern region Cleanup Day proceedings focused this year on Beersheba River Park, Ofakim and the Bnei Shimon Regional Council, in an event that celebrated 110 years of KKL-JNF activity. This year’s Cleanup Day efforts were made possible with support from JNF Australia, which has already shown enormous generosity in contributing to the development, restoration and conservation of sites in the Negev. This year, too, the Australians enlisted to support Israel’s Cleanup Day, for the benefit of the environment and the population. The Cleanup Day happening in the south was orchestrated by Ami Uliel, Director of KKL-JNF’s Southern Region, who visited the various sites where activities were underway, and Oranit Hoffi, the region’s Educational Director, who coordinated activities locally. This year particular emphasis was laid on recycling rubbish and refuse. Special efforts were made to educate local schoolchildren and raise their awareness of these issues, through both cleanup work and special activities at the Dudaim refuse dumping site.

Simultaneous cleanup activities continued throughout the morning and late into the afternoon at a number of sites in the south:  in Nahal Grar Park (Nahal Sharsheret), near Ofakim; in Beersheba River Park; at the Beit Eshel scenic lookout adjacent to the park; in Omer; in the Angels’ Forest near Kiryat Gat; and at the Dudaim refuse recycling site, where an educational center was set up with the help of JNF Australia.

Kindergarteners, hundreds of schoolchildren, and soldiers from various IDF units all took part in the activities. All participants, young and old, were asked to roll up their sleeves and play a physical role in ensuring the day’s success and conveying its messages. All those taking part were given green garbage bags and work gloves; instruction and garbage collecting were carried out under the direction of the teams, which were composed of KKL-JNF staff, army officers and teachers. The participants took their task very seriously and displayed a high level of motivation, producing garbage in quantities that showed that the message had been thoroughly absorbed and that we can all hope optimistically for a greener future.

Sixth-graders from Maagalim School, from the community of the same name, were deployed in Nahal Grar Park, which was established thanks to contributions of JNF Australia Friends. Students Tzuriel, Ron, Neri and Adi declared themselves committed to a cleaner world, and said that they attached great importance to the need to conserve a green environment. They added that they were enjoying themselves, as the activities they were engaged in involved getting out into the countryside and making a direct contribution to the health of the planet. It is incumbent upon everyone, everywhere to conserve the environment and keep it clean, they said in conclusion.

A group of students from a number of different schools set to work in Beersheba River Park, which was restored and developed with the help of KKL-JNF Friends in Canada, the USA, Australia and Germany. Among them were sixth-graders from Beersheva’s Comprehensive “C”, students from Omer Comprehensive and fifth-graders from Neveh Amram School in Dimona. This park and the river were the focus of extensive activity throughout the day.

Nisan, Nitzan, Paulina and Oren, all sixth-graders from Beersheba’s Comprehensive “C” school, said they felt the day was important because it contributed directly to the environment – the same environment that contributes to the well-being of human beings everywhere throughout their lives. But having an official Cleanup Day in no way relieves each and every one of us of the obligation to make every day a cleanup day, they added. They emphasized their commitment to the message of the event, and expressed their intention to do their best to pass this message on by every possible means, and especially via the Internet.

Students from Omer Comprehensive received a lesson on heritage and restoration at the Beit Eshel site adjacent to Beersheba River Park, where they listened to a detailed description of the site and its importance in the early years of the State of Israel. They also visited the various buildings, which have been restored and rebuilt, then afterwards helped to clean the site and the Beersheba River environs.

Ami Uliel spoke of the close connection between Cleanup Day and the values it represents and KKL-JNF’s enormous investment in maintaining forests, parks, heritage sites, recreation areas, etc. Cleanup Day, he said, instills ecological and conservation awareness in the younger generation, and thus enables KKL-JNF to continue to develop and conserve the environment of Israel in general and the open spaces of the Negev in particular, which are particularly amenable to conservation.

Yifat Suissa, an educator from Dimona’s Neveh Amram School, spoke of the close educational collaboration with KKL-JNF that continues throughout the year. She said that her pupils had enjoyed the outdoor activities, which had allowed them to make a direct contribution to the environment, and had given them a better understanding of the importance of recycling and keeping the world clean.

In Omer it was the kindergarten pupils who enthusiastically took part in the cleanup activities, with special emphasis on the classification of refuse in accordance with the recycling rules they had learned from their teachers.

While cleanup activities were underway at the various locations, the Dudaim refuse disposal site held a series of interesting educational events on recycling. Throughout the day groups of schoolchildren and soldiers came along to observe at first hand the workings of one of Israel’s most sophisticated sites for dealing with household and solid waste. The Dudaim site, which is operated by the Bnei Shimon Regional Council, serves as a central clearing house for refuse in the southern region, and deals with 1,100 tons of waste per day.

Guided tours of the site were provided by the staff, who, encouraged by Sigal Moran, head of Bnei Shimon Regional Council, did everything possible to ensure that the day would be a success,. The idea behind the activities at the site was to stress the importance of the final link in the “garbage chain”: the treatment of the refuse itself, with particular emphasis on recycling.

The head of the regional council praised the collaboration with KKL-JNF and the decision to include the Dudaim site in the Cleanup Day activities. She said that the council’s decision to permit the removal of all the refuse that had accumulated at the site that day had also contributed to the success of the event. The day’s activities at the site concluded with a fascinating soldiers’ guided tour of one of the refuse “mountains” at Dudaim.

Earlier that morning Cleanup Day events in the south had kicked off with a ceremony at Ben Gurion School in Ofakim, which was attended by Ofakim Mayor Tzvika Gringold, senior municipality officials and representatives of KKL-JNF. In his speech the mayor stressed the ideological importance of the occasion, both for individuals and for society as a whole, in both Israel and throughout the world. He explained that Ofakim Municipality placed great emphasis on the issue of sustainable towns and carried out extensive educational and promotional activities. The town is equipped with municipal recycling centers, and local residents are encouraged to pursue a “green” lifestyle. The mayor congratulated the schoolchildren on their willingness to participate and do their bit for a greener and cleaner world.

Avi Bitan, head of Ofakim Municipality’s Education and Welfare Department, said at the ceremony that Cleanup Day was the key to a greener world in which everyone, young and old, will show that they care and display a sense of personal and environmental responsibility for the future of the planet.

At the ceremony Oranit Hoffi explained to the schoolchildren the importance of social involvement and green values, and thanked the educational staff for helping to convey the necessary messages, which, she said, were a direct extension of the ongoing cooperation between the school and KKL-JNF.

The school’s head teacher, Tikva Yifrah, spoke of the day’s events, which acknowledged the importance of cleanliness, a supreme virtue and a precious norm. She also emphasized the sense of shared responsibility and Cleanup Day’s contribution to increasing awareness of the necessity to make the world cleaner, healthier and safer. 

For Articles, comments or use please contact
 Ahuva Bar-Lev
KKL-JNF – Information and Publications
 Phone: 972-2-6583354 Fax:972-2-6583493

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