For many of us, the idea of a changing climate is just that, an idea, something vague, distant and unfortunately irrelevant. For Ursula Rakova, climate change is much more. It is the source of a disrupted life, a community displaced, a paradise lost
Ursula Rakova is Executive Director of Tulele Peisa was born on Han, the main island of the Carterets, a small island in pacific southwest in Papua New Guinea. Her story starts with:
“Once upon a time, we lived in a paradise in the Pacific. It is a paradise no more.”
Ursula falls silent, recalling in her mind the beauty she once new.
From December to March, ocean seas wash over the atolls and homes devastating the islands.
Areas where traditionally farming has been done are covered with salt water. Over 50% of land area has vanished. Ursula showed me in a laminated photo showing how her island home has been split in two and there is now a four minute walk across permanent salt water to the other side of the island.
“My grandmother passed land to my mother and then it came to me. Ten years along the line I would love to pass on this island to my daughter, but I will not be able to do that.”
“We have lost our staple crop, swamp taro. People are hungry and survive on a steady diet of fish and coconuts.”
The residents of the Carteret islands are the worlds first climate refugees.
They must leave home, not just for vacation, but to make a new life for themselves.
The mission of the organization Ursula Rakova heads, Tulele Peisa is now to relocate residents to a new island and restore some sense of community. Thus far, they have raised enough funds to relocate five families. Sun Comes Up
Jennifer RedFearn is documenting the Carteret Islanders community wide relocation of 3000 people in a movie production currently filming. The film is called Sun Come up.