Friday, 11 December 2009

Smiles in the face of adversity: Kiribati

“World War 2 was not my war. I didn’t start it but my people became victims. Climate Change is not my war. I didn’t start it but have become a victim one more time."
Makereta Komai, PACNEWS, Climate Pasifika
Friday 11 December 2009, COPENHAGEN-- The smiles on their faces hide the harsh realities of an uncertain future.Maria Timon (pictured, right)  and Pelenise Alofa, (below) from Kiribati and shared powerful and moving ‘real life experiences’ of the impact of climate change on their livelihoods. Delivered behind the smiles, dancing and personal testimonies-- a desperate plea for a fair and legally binding climate change deal so that their children will not have to live with the possibility of leaving their homeland. Kiribati has a population of just over 110,000 people. Ms Alofa used the analogy of her island as being her mother to draw attention to the urgent need to reach an agreement that will reverse the visible changes they are seeing everyday. “My mother is calling me because she is dying and if she dies I will become homeless. I am the frigate bird that returned from gathering food to find that her home has disappeared. Who is going to take me to become my foster home. Who could love me the way my mother does," she asked? Ms Alofa urged developed countries, which includes the same powers that gave them freedom during the second World War, to come to their rescue.
“Today I am calling on those same people who came to give me the freedom and democracy in 1943 to help me again. Today it is the same powers that gave my country freedom and democracy who are now taking it away.

“This is my personal expectation from Copenhagen:
• Leaders who will not be bought or sold

• Leaders who do not fear to call a mistake by its right name

• Leader who recognise the moral obligation to hear the voice of the most vulnerable

• Leaders who will stand up for climate justice

• Leaders who will embrace climate justice NOW before it's too late

Ms Timon delivered a video presentation of her visit to her home island of Beru. In her visual presentation, she spoke to elderly men and women on the visible changes they’ve seen over the years. They expressed their messages of hope to world leaders to keep in mind their survival as a nation.

“Our people are vulnerable and are at risk. We plead with the world leaders to recognise that our people have the right to live in our own home islands. “We call on leaders to act now because the adverse changes we are seeing are real and are affecting us," said Ms Timon.

Despite the ebb and flow of negotiations here in Copenhagen, both the women are optimistic that a new climate change deal that will serve the interests of their people will be endorsed and signed by world leaders next week. The Pacific Calling Partnership, an Australian funded non-governmental organisation is assisting Pacific and Torres Islanders raise awareness about the impacts of climate change…ENDS

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