Rebuilding Hope: A Story of Climate Change Displacement (Part 2)
In an earlier post, I shared my encounters with different people in Tukuraki Village. This village was forced to relocate after the devastating Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.
The disaster left this village in pieces – it forced the entire community to start over and rebuilt their homes.
Seeking Shelter in a Cave
Immediately after the cyclone, the families of the village had to escape. They had nowhere to go and found shelter in a cave.
I had the opportunity to see the cave. We hike our way through overgrown plants and bushes and I felt my feet sinking into the mud. When we arrived the cave it looked like a giant overhanging rock. It looked like space for four, maybe five to lie down, so when I was told that over 10 families were living there I felt my heart drop in disbelief. “This,” I thought, “…this is where they were living”.
As we were being guided to the cave, the village chief said to us, “We were sitting there maybe 3-4 months. We were very afraid. We remember what happened in the landslide and what happened to us in the village.”
I continued to look around. Just as I was about to step into the open space outside the cave, I look down and see small drops of water hitting the leaves. I look up at the sky and noticed a large grey cloud. As I step back into the cave, the heavens must have pushed a button to release a floodgate of rain.
Streams of rain continued to gush down, it was the kind of rain that makes you feel the power of the earth. Suddenly the reality of seeking shelter in a cave felt even more terrifying.
Reality of Climate Change
Climate change doesn’t only mean rising sea levels, it also means increased occurrences or severity of disasters. Coastal communities are at risk of receding shorelines and with inland communities faces disasters such as landslides. I suppose the point is, no one is safe from the effects that come from climate change.
“I am happy”
I am happy. I am happy. Those were words were often repeated in our conversation back in the village I had with one of the women.
“We are very afraid. Afraid to live again in the old village. We are happy that they built our new village. We are very grateful too to leave our old village to come here. I am very happy to stay in the new village.”
I was touched by the sincerity of the people in the village, but their compassion to open their homes and to share their stories of fear and overcoming that fear.