Saturday, 22 May 2010

Japanese photographer’s crusade to save Tuvalu

Ms. Makereta Komai, Editor of PACNEWS was successful in her application for the SPREP Tuvalu Media Grant, the offer of a partnership to send Pacific reporters to Tuvalu to help document the inaugural Tuvalu King Tide Festival in February.  Below is a story from Ms. Komai
Tuvalu, 26 February, 2010 - 42 year old Shuuichi Endou, an architect of Taitoku in Tokyo, Japan loves the simple life on the 26 kilometre island archipelago of Tuvalu. Since his first visit in 1998, he has fallen in love with the people, its traditions and culture, and its simple communal living.
That is why he quit his job as an architect to pursue a global campaign to bring the plight of the 10,000 population of Tuvalu to the international fora.
After graduating from the Osaka University of Arts, he landed himself a job with Taisei Company, one of Japan’s prominent general contracted. He wanted to make environmentally friendly buildings.  That dream was short-lived when he heard about Tuvalu’s fate as one of the first small island state that might disappear due to climate change and sea level rise.
His love affair with Tuvalu started there!
That led him to Funafuti to set up a non-profit organisation, Tuvalu Overview. The organisation lobbies for global recognition of the urgency of time for island nation and her people.  
Endou’s latest ambitious project is to photograph 10,000 of the island nation’s population and use it to urge the world to halt climate change.
“In 2007, I started this project. So far, I have collected 1,000 photos and interviews from the two islands of Nukulaelae and Niutao.  I want to send this message to the world using Tuvaluan faces explaining their aspirations for the future. For me, it’s important that I document the sinking people’s dreams".
His other major plan is to take the 10,000 photos and interviews for an exhibition at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
“I plan to put all 10,000 faces on the wall of the UN building with messages from the people of Tuvalu pleading with the world to hear their concerns.  “Its theme will be Build the Future with 10,000 Tuvaluans – Build the Future for Humanity.  It’s not only Tuvalu but all human beings will be affected by climate change and rising sea level in the future", said Endou.
This week, as Tuvalu celebrates its first ever King Tide Festival, Endou was back in Funafuti to follow up on his global campaign plans.  These are some of the dreams he’s gathered so far:
  • 10 year old Nanoua Atabi, a primary school student said she has studied climate change at school but she is not scared because she can swim.
  • Tautele Kaea, a 34 year old fisherman said, “I’ve heard about sea level rise but it’s up to God. There is nothing that humans can do.”
  • Fakalesia Pelesala, 64 year old of Niutao said she has seen the destruction of a big wave surge in 1993. Although she doesn’t know much about climate change, she wants the world to assist Tuvalu.
  • A young mother, Pua Tetoa said she is scared of the waves and pleads with developed nations to think of her people.
  • Tuvalu’s first Prime Minister, Toaripi Lauti, now 78 years old said, “I really love my Tuvaluan traditional lifestyle which has enabled us to live with blessings of nature. However, I want to get a safe place for my people and my family.”
Asked when he will complete his documentation of the rest of Tuvalu’s 9,000 population, Endou said he will be back in Tuvalu in July this year to photograph and record the views of people on the island of Nukufetau.  The outlying island of Nukufetau has a population of 800.
“The people have been very co-operative. I have to visit all the homes to photograph and interview all members of the family. I even take pictures of babies – these are the future generation of Tuvalu.
Another local NGO that’s prominent globally on the fight for Tuvalu’s cause is Alofa Tuvalu. It was born in 2005 to save the island nation from being the first to be submerged due to climate change.Its focus is to help Tuvaluans survive as a nation, and if possible allow its people to remain on their ancestral land

1 comment:

  1. good work. more people need to realize that this is immediate danger caused by global warming. action is needed in order to save tuvalu, not countries filled with diplomats sitting on their hands. people need to know about this, I can't believe I am just hearing of this.