Truly Vulnerable

I have a special place in my heart for vulnerable communities that sit precariously above the water- the atoll nations of the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Kiribati, in particular. But seeing my first atoll-nation grave-sites today made an emotional impression that I will not soon forget.

The graves are a part of this landscape in an integral and even informal way- wedged in between homes, steps away from the ocean (by necessity- this describes most of the land here), children bouncing from headstone to headstone giggling. The average height of the Marshall Islands is just single-digit feet above the water, but these graves are (of course) even lower- even more vulnerable. The sites are lovely and striking- but I wonder what the standing groundwater, the rising tides, the coastal erosion, and the threat of submersion means for these graves and for those that still remember and love those that are buried within. Just one part of this gorgeous, threatened landscape that is under threat- but a significant one.

4 responses

  1. This is part of the tragedy of the changing world climate. As the waters rise and cover these islands or other low-lying places around the globe, we loose the historical places of those who lived there. Much like the damage caused by the Three Riviers Dam in China, we see the same thing happening on a slower scale.

    We may not be able to save these places in the world. We should consider how we can do something to slow the damage and maybe do our part to protect what is left. Thanks for the great pictures and story.

    August 6, 2011 at 8:58 am

    • Everett- thank you for your thoughts on this. I agree about the connection you’ve made with the Three Rivers Dam- have you read Peter Hessler’s River Town? He touches on this as well and I think you might appreciate it. So glad you’re bring exposure to this important topic in your own work!

      August 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm

  2. Nice pictures! If you don’t mind, I’d like to link to your blog so other people can see that there are more than sunsets and blue water here.

    August 6, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    • Thanks Jamie! Of course! I’ll keep following your blog as well!

      August 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm

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