Stories from an introverted Fijian, earnestly seeking purpose, truth, and justice in this world.
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Dream Big- Rio Blog 2012
27.10.12 Rio De Janeiro, 18:42 Gate C-11
Looking back on this amazing adventure, I am still in disbelief. Two weeks ago, I was at home in Pacific Harbor, planning out details for my day. It was my granduncles’ funeral, and well, to be frank, the last thing on my mind, was this impending adventure, God had in store for me.
Let me start from the beginning, well sort of, in June, 2011, I was selected alongside 6 other young, passionate, driven Greenpeace volunteers from around the world. Sean from China, Harmony from the United States, Pablo from Argentina, Nick from Johannesburg, Helene from Denmark and Seychelle from Canada, we were selected as part of the New Hands on Deck, Greenpeace International project. Each of us would join the crew of the Rainbow Warrior III as deckhands as well as social media activists, updating our various social media platforms in order to, one, give Greenpeace a new young fresh “cool” look and two, take the world with us on this journey as the RWIII took its maiden voyage through Europe, the United States, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa.
Fast forward one year later, a couple of major set backs in logistics and planning and an exceptionally valuable lesson in patience and faith, I finally joined the RWIII on the 20thJune, 2012, while it was docked right here in the picturesque Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Taking my first step onboard the, ostentatious, yet modest, vessel that day, what I felt was pure disbelief. How did I get to this defining moment in my life? Not only was I the first Fijian, but the first Pacific Islander, to interact with the RWIII, to sleep onboard, to haunt its corridors, to ensure its neat and tidy when my shift was up, to watch over it as the rest of the crew got some well deserved rest and to be forever etched into its history, to imprint my essence on to that vessel and to have the vessel stir up within me, a feeling of consciousness, that could have no other origin. Again, pure disbelief.
For a young 25 year old man who had sacrificed and dedicated the last 5 years of his life to Greenpeace. This first step on to the RWIII was the substance of which dreams were created.
The RWIII being in Rio at this time, was no coincidence, it was there because the international negotiations on sustainable development, the Rio+20 was also taking place.
The only thing I needed to know about Rio+20, was that it was an opportunity for small island states, and its youth, to demand from world leaders, a future we wanted. One that guaranteed our rights to survival and the enjoyment of basic human rights, ensuring that those that were responsible from climate change were held responsible and legally binding agreements that guaranteed the survival of small Island states, reached.
In 2008, I joined Greenpeace because 20 year old me, was at a point in his life, where he was aware of the threat climate change posed and he wanted to do something about it. He wanted to make a difference so his children would one day still have the luxury of calling Fiji and the Pacific home. At 20, I was instantly drawn to the core values on which Greenpeace laid its foundations. Non violence, independence and bearing witness. Each core principle Greenpeace upheld were ones that had, somewhere along the events of my short life, manifested itself in my consciousness and aspired for more meaning. Greenpeace fulfilled that hope. Something else that drew me to Greenpeace was that fact that it appeared to be solution based, meaning that it took action to bring about change, something that appealed to the adventurous side of me.
Being a Pacific Islander, I am very much linked to the ocean that surrounds my home and the land on which my ancestors and my descendants have and will walk. Both the land and the ocean have ensured our survival. It unites us, it protects us and it sustains us. Growing up with my family, I have learnt that the ocean is linked to our identity. It is strong as it is gentle. Just like the ocean, Fijians and Pacific Islanders, are living proof, that there is nothing as strong as sincere gentleness and nothing quite as gentle as absolute strength. If our oceans and our land were to be put at risk, so to our traditions and customs, our land and our ocean are a source of security and identity. I refuse to become a stranger in my own land and a foreigner out on my own ocean.
The Rio+20 was a chance for leaders of the Pacific to take courage and remain faithful to the true essence and substance of the Pasifika people. An opportunity to stand firm in our beliefs, teachings, values and principles, to demand the future we so rightfully deserve. Did that really happen at the negotiations? Maybe or maybe to a certain degree, regardless, I would like to think that, if you are in a position to make a change, however small, others may think it is, you will. I would also hope that each person was encouraged to speak out. To speak out for what is right and not necessarily what is easy. To speak out for what they believed in, for things in life that give their existence purpose.
Over the years I have learnt that if you remain silent, others may interpret that silence as agreement. Injustice exists and will only prevail if genuinely honest people do nothing. Keep at it, don’t take it easy. Don’t stop making noise, not matter how many times you speak out, don’t stop. If you can’t change them, do not let them change you
Despite the fact that Rio does offer some of the most breath taking views on earth, Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf and ironically enough the ‘favelas’ I didn’t bother holding my breath with Rio+20. With its very obvious failures and enormous steps backwards, Rio+20 was a failure of epic proportions. Nevertheless, Rio did add a few things to my life. For one, I had always dreamed of being onboard the RWIII and by God’s grace, I did get onboard. Secondly, I was blessed enough to meet my role model and source of inspiration, Kumi Naidoo. He was a lot more warm and kind hearted than I ever imagined. A little nobody from Fiji, shaking hands and sharing a conversation with Kumi Naidoo. Never thought it was possible! Finally, I had a brief chat with celebrity activist Lucy Lawless, who much like my other role model Harry Belafonte, used her celebrity status, to fight the good fight and stand up while everyone else was sitting down and stand out while everyone else was standing up.
This whole experience has been a tremendous blessing. I have been both indisputably humbled and empowered. Humbled by the fact that God allowed me to live my dreams. Experience a glimpse of life onboard the RWIII, stand in awe in front of my role model, Kumi Naidoo, and share a laugh with the beautiful Lucy Lawless. Empowered by the fact that just because you come from a small island nation in the South Pacific, your dreams can come true, you can have your cake and eat it too. It is empowering to know as well that faith and hope are not just abstract things. Coupled with fervent prayer, it can become the keys to unlock your destiny, it can become the answers to your prayers and the trick to living your dream. Finally, this whole experience has been empowering, in the fact, that no matter how mundane and ordinary your life can become, which it will from time to time, you have to remind yourself that you can become, from time to time, extraordinary. I read somewhere once that if you want to make God laugh, you tell him your plans. I mildly disagree, tell God your plans and ask him to reveal to you, where your plans and HIS meet. What he will show you, will be beyond anything you couldn’t even dare imagine.
Keep the faith, take courage, don’t take it easy and above all dream big