GenV Cares: Malake Island Support
It’s been almost two years since I sat on the floor of a lovely but modest island home, sharing a delicious fish lunch with the sea-going fisherman who had caught it in their nets just a few hours before. Alongside the fish were root vegetables, spicy peppers, plantains, rice and more, all prepared with love in a simple kitchen over a fire. We all ate together: friends from the United States and newfound friends from the island, as we prepared for a day of reforestation on tiny, beautiful, Malake, Fiji.
This was Birdie’s house, and she opened her doors with welcoming arms, as did her friends and neighbors all around the little island — a tight-knit community of 143 homesteads in all, sharing a school, a town center, and a mountainside of soon-to-be-planted seedlings. No electricity. No roads. Just 1,116 good and gentle people with whom we would soon work side-by-side. We’d get to know and love their children, admire their work ethic and come to call them part of our extended family. 1,116 men, women and children who had already experienced the troubles of rising seas and the challenge of moving their houses further inland as the shore shrank year over year. 143 homes which I was I was often invited into by the gracious people who lived there — a community that I was grateful to serve.
Today few of those homes are still standing, and every one of them was hit by the storm. Birdie’s is severely damaged.
Just two years ago, the island of Malake was the beautiful fourth stop in our 7 Continents in 7 Years journey. Today, it is destroyed: a tragic victim of raging seas and wild weather caused by the brutal cyclone we have come to call Winston. Ironically, this is the type of storm that is becoming more and more common across the globe, even as many of us try to replant trees, choose greener energy, and do all we can to quell the effects of climate change. This time, at least 42 Fijians in towns and villages across the mainland are dead from the disaster, killed by Winston’s deadly winds.
My heart pauses for all people who lose their homes, families and loved ones to storms. But my heart is truly broken to see the pictures of devastation in this tiny little island community we called home for a few days.
I wish I could beam myself to Malake right now, this instant. I wish I could snap a finger and restore their precious homes. Fortunately, there are people on the ground willing to work. I am grateful for those hands, and I will do what I can from here: Donate money for the rebuilding effort. Tell the story of 143 homes lost. Share the opportunity with people to donate through Conservation International, the team who was with us in Malake the first time.
Tonight as I sleep in my warm bed and listen to the wind outside my door, my heart aches for the children and families in Malake whose beds and homes have been taken by the wind outside their doors. But I have hope for a new dawn for the people in Malake. I have seen their spirit. I know their work ethic. And now I know Generation V knows their story.
If you would like to help write the next chapter in Malake’s story, please click this link to donate to the cause.