Posted on 13 August 2007
This trip was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. I was able to join a field trip to the Lau Group, Kabara (433 inhabitants, 32.75 km2). Even only a few Fijians were able to visit this wonderful island.
This trip was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. I was able to join a field trip to the Lau Group, Kabara (433 inhabitants, 32.75 km2). Even only a few Fijians were able to visit this wonderful island. After a two day trip on a boat we arrived. The island seems like paradise: white sand, clear water and villages surrounded by palm trees. The beauty of the nature is only topped by the friendliness of the people. Staying for one week I got a very detailed impression of what life means for the people living on this island. Life is simple but in a kind of balance.
The abstract theory of global warming with all its consequences like temperature rising and raising of the sea level directly affects the people of this island and disturbs this balance. Floods and erosion threaten the houses of the families. The old church has been destroyed by a flood. One fisher woman told me that fish are decreasing and it takes more time to get enough food to feed the family.
Another problem in Kabara is the access to drinking water. The water reserves depend on the rainfall, which is very rare in the dry months. The second day of our stay we were lucky: rain filled the tanks of all houses and the higher consumption of water was covered. Nevertheless I tried not to squander water. That means for example only one shower a day with a bucket of cold fresh water.
WWF is very interested in the stories of the people that live in Kabara. Because of that the Communications Coordinator Ashwini Prabha did a lot of interviews with involved people. I spent a lot time joining the interviews. For me it was a great experience to see the professional way of working and to get to know the thoughts and experiences of these people.
It was very impressive to meet the ‘Climate Witness’ Penina Moce in her village Udu. She has been to conferences in Japan and Argentina to tell about the changes caused by Global warming on her island. Besides her important role in this climate change discussion she does all normal village activities like fishing, washing clothes and cooking. We shared the experience to visit another country far away from home. In our conversation we shared the feeling, that you take your own culture in the heart but you have to be open minded to other cultures.
My School Visit
To get to know more about the peoples’ experiences about climate change I visited the Naikeleyaga Village School. Within the scope of the Climate Witness project I talked with the children about climate change and asked some children to interview their grandparents or older members of the family about their stories concerning the impacts of Climate change. I really appreciated the work with the children. They are the future of Kabara and should be aware about the meaning of climate change. Also the stories of the older inhabitants are important to report the impacts of climate change. So the community of Kabara becomes a voice in the global climate change discussion, which should be heard by the countries that mainly cause the global warming.
WWF runs also a project in Kabara to save the Vesi tree, a hard wood that is traditionally used to carve the Tanoa (bowl for the kava ceremony). This tree is being cut at a fast rate by villagers. WWF is working on reforestation of this important native tree. This time they did a nursery to grow Vesi and a workshop to build the management capabilities of the inhabitants. I helped building the nursery by cutting wood – a very hard work in the heat of over 30 degrees. But there is an advantage of being on an island: if it gets too hot you can always jump into the water…