By Joy Mazahreh – Aug 29,2022 

Beisan Al Sharif and Seif Al Madanat, cofounders of ProjectSea, pose for photo after a clean-up campaign in Aqaba (Photo courtesy of ProjectSea Instagram page)

VERMONT, US — One year ago, scuba divers Seif Al Madanat and Beisan Al Sharif had their first clean-up dive using the name ProjectSea, a Jordanian environmental initiative developed by the duo.

“We both came up with the idea when we witnessed the pollution while diving in the Gulf of Aqaba during the pandemic, and we decided to do something about it,” said Madanat, cofounder of ProjectSea, in a virtual interview with The Jordan Times. 

“We started selling candles to fund our cleanups. Then, the candle lit a path to sustain our project,” he added. 

Sharif, the other cofounder of ProjectSea, described how the initiative works: “We started with and committed to monthly cleanups for the last 12 months. Then, we managed to attract private entities who wanted to sponsor us and be part of our message.”

However, the cofounders quickly realised that the cleanups were not enough.

“Our mindset shifted to conscious consumerism, and we started focusing on raising more awareness online and in our local community. We want people to see the waste with their own eyes on our social media platforms, where we share facts and statistics about sustaining marine life as well,” added Sharif.

“We started with two scuba divers, and we now have a community of more than 150 participants of 31 different nationalities,” said Madanat.

Three of the monthly cleanups last year were women-only, in collaboration with Girls that Scuba, the world’s largest scuba diving community for women. “Women’s empowerment is one of the main pillars at ProjectSea,” said Sharif.

Education is one of the other pillars of the initiative. ProjectSea published “the first Arabic children’s book about marine life pollution”, according to the founders.

“It means the world to us when we are contacted by students who fundraised to support us,” added Madanat.

Students and their parents participate in the monthly cleanups as well. Mohammad Samih, a 13-year-old student, thanked ProjectSea for allowing him to help the environment: “The monthly cleanups are just a small thing, but together we can make a big difference,” he told The Jordan Times.

Sharif and Madanat’s are “both thankful” to the diving community for their participation, and the people of Aqaba for their support. “The staff onboard are locals from Aqaba,” said Sharif, reflecting on a heart-warming experience she had with a young girl who recognised her in a grocery shop in Aqaba as “the woman who cleans the sea”.

“We are honoured to influence organisations and people around us to do cleanups as well. Also, conscious consumerism changed us from within. We are changing our habits, and now our social circles are thinking twice when consuming something environmentally unconscious. This is the ripple effect of doing good,” Madanat added.