This International Volunteer Day, we celebrate our volunteers. Let’s meet Tekoniti Tetabo.
Mauri I’m Teko. I am the Youth officer at the Rabi branch.
I have lived on Rabi island my whole life. My forefathers were originally from Ocean island and settled here.
I am from the village of Buakonikai and live in Umu village where my mother is from. It isn’t far from Nuku, the trading area, where the branch is also located. I come from a big family. There are 8 of us and most of us still live on the island.
We are surrounded by the sea, we love the sea, she has always been our friend. Most of our men are taught at a very young age about the sea and how to fish. So they are very skilled fishermen. My father was a fisherman.
As you already know, almost all Rabi people love fish. That is a staple here on the island. Fish and rice. Funny how we plant cassava and dalo but still go to the shop to buy rice. We love our rice.
When I was younger, I used to love to spend my past time in the sea just outside of my home. I would have so much fun there with all my cousins. We would play, we would sing, we would fish and picnic on the beach. Life was good.
It still is good but now I see a different side of the sea I once loved. She has come in and is slowly taking my land. Slowly reaching my home. Every year, I’d watch her move in slowly, eating the beach and I am afraid that one day, she will swallow my home. I already saw her do that to other families in the other village.
So not so long ago, I met a cousin who was on her way to a Red Cross meeting and I tagged along. I found the meeting interesting. They discussed issues that we were facing on the island and some of the things that could be done. I joined the activity and I enjoyed it. I was surrounded by my people and we were doing good things for my people on my island. That made me proud.
I returned home and couldn’t stop talking about Red Cross and some of the other things we were going to do.
I remember that day clearly, I sat near the back door facing the sea and looked out at her and thought to myself. “I may not be able to stop you, but between now and then, I will do what I can to make the island a better place to live in.”
So here I am, the Youth officer at Rabi branch. I think one of our biggest challenge is keep young people engaged here. Most of us may leave the island for school or to find work and those that remain will tend to their plantations and fish. Some of us work at the Government station and Post office. It’s trying to get the Youth to realise how the little time and effort they devote to the old people or to keeping the island clean and safe, can make a big difference.
I always ask myself, what would make me care enough to come or what can keep me involved?. As I try to answer those questions, I try to understand the dynamics of the young Rabi person who could hold the key to keeping our island a safe place to live and to protecting our people from our friend, the sea.
Volunteering and really doing things to help my island people gives me hope. I do not know what the future holds for my island but I still hope, hope for the best.