I’m not really too sure how many people that read my old web address are reading this one. Some of my most avid readers (i.e. my Mother) would know that I used to have a blogspot address and have now transferred over to wordpress. I personally found wordpress had a better format for ‘the little island that could’, no hard feelings toward blogspot.
Anyway, that last little paragraph was incredibly boring to write so I can imagine how tedious it was to read. My point is, is that in the transfer, unfortunately little comments, replies and stories from followers have been lost. One in particular has stood out for me and I only realised this after telling a particular story to friends over dinner last night. It all begins when a tiny little natural disaster called a tsunami struck Japan earlier this year…
By the time the news that the tsunami hit in Japan, I was working on the top level of a high rise building working for a media giant. I was in the middle of London in Covent Garden and had to be told via email that a tsunami had struck. Now, like most islanders that don’t live on the islands, we know that if a natural oceanic disaster strikes Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Hawaii, California, New Zealand etc, we go on high alert. However, we also know that islanders are usually the last to know due to them being out in the middle of the ocean, don’t watch TV and generally don’t have any media outlets telling them that a huge tsunami could reverberate back onto them.
So, back in Australia, my Mum is on the phone to her mum telling her the news that a tsunami could very well strike in a matter of hours. Just so you know, at its widest, the width of the main island – Tarawa – is about 1km. 1km! Lordy at high tide the ocean is literally at the doorstep – imagine a tsunami! A wave about 10 metres high would cause destruction so a tsunami is a huge deal. So after Mum explains this all to my grandma, what does my grandma do? Well she hears what she needs to hear, slams the phone down, grabs her false teeth and scrambles up to the top of a coconut tree. Haha!! Oh bless her. What a woman! In the meantime, Mum is trying to call back someone in the family to tell them to get my grandma down from the top of the tree.
I know, I know. There is one side of this story that is incredibly heart wrenching but at the same time it’s hilarious. I particularly love the fact that she remembered to grab her false teeth. The thing about islanders is that their sense of humour can really get them through any situation. Thankfully the tsunami passed over the top of Kiribati and they didn’t get so much as a ripple. The really sad thing is though, is that everyone knows that there will come a time when they will not be so lucky.
Afterwards, I spoke to a cousin on the main island via the net and he said it was fine and that they hadn’t noticed anything and that everyone had gone along with life just the same. I asked him why he thought the waves didn’t seem to increase and his answer was ‘because God is on our side. We are good people so God is good to us‘. I’m not really religious but I am fully understanding of people that are. I like that some people have something to turn to in order for them to make sense of life. I generally think of myself as a positive thinker and always try look on the brighter side of life but this comment hit me so hard, I ended up tearing up still in my office, on the 13th floor of a building in Covent Garden.
The Kiribati people are really are wonderful people. They are good people. But what about the rest of the people in the world? Are we being as good as we can be? Can we please stop saying that the rising sea waters isn’t an urgent issue because these people need immediate, practical help. If they believe that God will be good to them then I honestly believe that he will be. I have no problems with God. It’s all the cynics out there that I have a problem with. Because for all I know, my grandma is going to be clinging onto coconut trees every time a wave comes with nothing but her false teeth to save her.