On Saturday, 24th October, 2015 the President of Kiribati came to the OLSH Convent at Kensington to present a national Kiribati award to Sr Nora Hanrahan for her work in advancing the lives of the Kiribati people during her long years in education there. He noted particularly her role in setting up 6th Form school with few resources in Teaoraereke, Tarawa.
During his time with us the president spoke passionately about the effects of climate change on his country. He spoke about the rising sea levels which have caused waves to wash right across some islands killing every living thing as they pass: the bread fruit trees are all destroyed, the water lens has become salty, the swamp taro are all ruined by the salt water and even the coconut trees are suffering. That means the people have no water for drinking, cooking or washing and their main food crops no longer exist. This is most evident in the two southern most islands of Tamana and Arorae. Many people from the outer islands are now living on Tarawa which is suffering from the same problems. The great population increase here means that people need to build their houses closer to the sea. It is heartbreaking to see the waves flooding these houses.
Even if the major carbon emitting countries cut their emissions dramatically, and this they must do for the good of the planet, what they do now could be too late for Kiribati.
The day after his visit to Kensington the President was to leave for Bali Indonesia where he was to address a meeting on agriculture in island nations in which he would urge people to come up with solutions for what is troubling Kiribati and other island nations which are affected by climate change. He has spent much of his presidency speaking at meetings which deal with climate change, e.g, in Copenhagen, Paris, at the UN in New York. In all his talks he tries to impress upon his listeners that climate change and the devastation caused by it is an issue for humankind and is not a political one nor should it be ignored because of the problems caused to industry by the lowering of the carbon emissions.
...Sr Helen Simpson OLSH
We, as OLSH sisters are very concerned about the impact of climate Change on the people of Kiribati and all those living in low lying lands in the Pacific. At our recent General Chapter a key focus was looking at practical ways to support the people of Kiribati and we take seriously the cry of Sr Bina Kooka, one of our younger sisters in Kiribati… ‘Climate change has affected our lands and is destroying it. It is time to wake up and educate the young ones especially our young Sisters to be a strong voice for our Kiribati people. To tell other countries that what they are doing to make life easier with fossil fuel use, could result in our country disappearing.’
...Sr Philippa Murphy OLSH