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Voicing the Cries of an Unborn Generation”

By Fr. Nimi

Pope Frances said, “Any harm done to the environment is harm done to humanity”. The misuse and destruction of the environment often comes from failing to see and respect the full dignity of others and to include them in decisions affecting them. This relentless process of economic and social exclusion in my village of Votua is a result of this selfish and boundless thirst for material prosperity and leads to the misuse of natural resources that my forefathers, generation after generations, have depended on for survival. It is a complete denial of our calling towards human fraternity and a grave offense of our human rights in caring for our environment, and the very people that their livelihood depends on for sustainability.

We have written numerous letters asking the leaders of the day, to consider the cry of my people, but we have been treated as ‘trash in a widespread and quietly growing culture of waste’. For the people of Votua, land and the sea is not a commodity, but rather a gift from God and from our ancestors who rest there. Our ‘qoliqoli’ (traditional fishing ground) is a sacred space by which we maintain our identity and worth and we know how to care for its best. Before I ever was, the people of Votua had a greater sense of responsibility; strong sense of community; readiness to protect others; spirit of creativity and deep love for the land and the sea. It’s amazing to know that my forefathers, throughout the years of fostering a loving and caring relationship with Mother Nature, died with dignity and integrity knowing that the hope for their children and grandchildren is secured; the land and the sea.

Because of the above project, my people are gravely endangered and our present livelihood threatened together with our identity and even our future generation’s existence. My heart aches as I sought to be that voice crying in the wilderness about how our ‘qoliqoli’, my culture, our rights and our dignity have been overlooked, sacrificed and even trampled upon for the economic interests of some.

I wish to conclude, that denying the ‘conservation’ of Free Prior Consent of our peoples responsibilities with regards to our ‘qoliqoli’, will only strangle the life out of us and strengthens feelings of hopelessness and despair because our voices have been undermined and our sovereignty torn, because those whom we trusted to protect us, chose to only serve the economic interests of transnational cooperation and not so much responding to the cries of my people.

Please join me as I pray for protection for my people!

God, our heavenly Father, you are gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love. You are good to all, and your compassion is over all that you have made. Gather and envelope us in your immeasurable goodness and generosity that, we too, may recognize that bond that unites us and the dignity and worth of every human being, never favoring one person or group over another, but together seeking justice, equity, protection, health for every human being.

We ask all this through Christ our Lord.

(I am a ‘kai’ Votua and this is my heartfelt opinion of what the majority of the Votua people are going through. It is not politically motivated nor to disrespect any person. It only serves the intention to express the cries of my beloved people of Votua, Ba.)

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