Last week my colleague and I went to Kiribati.
Kiribati is here:
You may need to zoom. I swear it’s there though.
We, like most ‘foreigners’, were there for work surrounding Climate Change.
I was standing on the edge of the causeway on Wednesday in fact, with the video team, when a bus full of school children saw my white legs and blonde hair and yelled out “CLIIIIIIIMAAAATTTTTEEEE CHAAAAAAAAAANNNNNGE”.
We were all in fits of laughter.
There is something supremely stunning about the sadness of Kiribati’s reality. Everywhere I went there were smiling children. Wise women. Hope in abundance.
One of my new friends, Vasiti, said to me, “when the tide comes up, we just want to make sure we are with our family. So when we get stuck on our beds to be higher than the water, at least we are stuck together.”
Then of course she laughed hysterically. It seems to be contiguous.
After we had known each other a few days, (Vasiti, her sister Senai and I) after the girls had nursed me through sickness, rubbed my back until I slept, we’d shared fish, a mattress, stories and a kava bowl, I asked them the question I couldn’t get out of my head.
“Do you think everyone would prefer to leave Kiribati?”
The girls smiled.
Vasiti said “I think the young ones would be able to go. That’s what we say. But we would be sad all the time. The elders, No. They are the same as Kiribati. Not separate. If Kiribati is meant to go underwater, they say they are meant to go underwater as well.”
And I guess that’s the beautiful tragedy of truly belonging.
Here is our song. Jordeena and I. Recorded in a Dragon Music Shop in Suva (by the wonderful Becky Diamond)… and filled with the grins and pride of some island warriors we have met along our way. xxxxx