Friday, 11 December 2009

Media man turns to activism for Tuvalu

Rachna Lal, USP Journalism, Climate Pacific media team

Thursday10 December, Copenhagen -- Ten years ago, a Japanese media consultant arrived in Tuvalu with the dream of making a fortune from television in the islands. “But when I got to Tuvalu, it just captivated me," says professional photographer Shuuichi Endou, "and I fell in love with the small island country and have since been living with my wife on the island working on various projects to help better the lives of these people.” Endou is here at COP15 with a photographic memory bank which is especially poignant: if climate change continues to wreak havoc on sea levels and food/water security in the Pacific, photos may be all Tuvaluans have to connect with home. Tuvalu “My project, Build the Future with 10,000 Tuvaluans, hopes to get views from the whole population of Tuvalu beginning from those who are eight years old,” Endou said. In one of the messages, an 11 year old boy, Nick Leiki says, In the hopes of being able to do something to raise more awareness globally about the situation in Tuvalu, Endou has started up his own non-governmental organization called Tuvalu Overview. He has an exhibition booth in Bella Centre during the COP15 to get the pre-recorded message of people from Tuvalu. “Through the exhibition of photo-messages from the people of Tuvalu during this conference, I hope to get their message of struggles, dreams and hopes to the negotiators,” said the Japanese activist. 

“When sea level rises, I will jump on my boat with my bag and go to New Zealand.”
 Endou said children in their innocence are not aware of the damage global warming is doing to them or their country and by the time they will be of age to realize what it really means, it might be too late. Endou hopes good sense will prevail from the COP15. “I do not want to imagine what will happen to the Tuvaluans if a good decision is not made here. The dreams of Tuvaluan people might disappear along with their drowning country.”

Shuuichi Endou was mesmerized by Tuvalu the first time he landed in the small islands located in the Pacific.His initial plan was to start up a domain business in the small sinking islands in 1998. “I visited the capital – Funafuti and talked about my business proposal with the government officials,” he said. The beauty of the island living mesmerized Endou and that is when is decided to modify his plans and remain on the island and start up his own NGO. “It was the beauty of the untouched nature, the friendly smiling people, the scenery and the need to do something to help these people that made me stay in Tuvalu,” Endou reminisced. "I started up with the website for Tuvalu and started promoting Tuvalu through the use of my skills in photography."
Tuvalu has already made it to the big news by calling for the suspension of the Conference of the Parties (COP) plenary session and becoming the first country to scoop the Ray of the Day award here at the COP15 in Denmark.  Endou got married four years ago to Yuko who also lives with him in Tuvalu .“There are times when I start missing my home back in Tokyo and that is when I do go back for a couple of months. But as I begin to miss Shuuichi, I come back to Tuvalu,” she said. Having spent more than 10 years in Tuvalu, Endou does not feel like an outsider in the country and fits in well with all the indigenous people of the island. It is not that Endou does not go to Japan at all or that he does not have plans to move back to Japan, but circumstances are such in Tuvalu that he would rather be in a place where he feels he can make a difference.  “When and if I go back to Japan, I want to spend my life in the country-side so that I am away from all the hustle of the city and am able to spend a fossil-energy-free life.”--ENDS

No comments:

Post a Comment