Note: This is the third of fifteen parts. Click here to read from the beginning.
Majuro is home to about 30,000 people, mostly Mashallese, but also Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, Portuguese, Brits, Asians, Pilipinos, Germans—people truly from all around the world who are here on some sort of mission.
There are volunteers, teachers (like Molly), fishermen, and there are electricians, carpenters and engineers working on expansion projects.
I feel extraordinarily lucky to have met many of these visitors. Below is a sampling of some of the folks I now know thanks to Molly, who has met them all at restaurants in town, or on the island of Eneko. (Bear in mind this isn’t a journalistic report, so I am not swearing to the accuracy of the information, picked up at social gatherings and on the beach.)
- Molly’s teacher friends—mainly from the states—who are here, like Molly, teaching at Majuro Cooperative School.
- A man from New Zealand who works for the power company on Majuro and is involved in a project to install a new solar system.
- An engineer, also from New Zealand, who has been here for four years, helping to develop the airport. (This man told me that an all-island trash removal plan was put in place about two or three years ago after a major clean-up effort was initiated. He said if I think there is a lot of trash here now, I should have seen it before.)
- Helicopter pilots from the United States, the Philippines, Germany and Australia who work for a Taiwanese fishing company; they fly over the sea and spot the schools of fish, and direct the boat toward the catches.
- A woman from New Zealand who is a volunteer for a training organization funded by Australia to help organize and enact strategic educational development on the island; she helps the islanders in thinking about future careers, how new positions can be created, how islanders can be trained to hold those positions. She also organizes trainings through which islanders pass on their traditional skills—like canoe building and other handicrafts—to the younger generations so the arts are not lost.
- Several people—from Portugal, England and Australia—who serve as crew members on a wealthy couple’s yacht. The Portuguese man oversees navigational operations; the English woman is akin to a stewardess; and a man from Australia who is diving instructor. (The co-owner of the yacht is an editor for a diving magazine, so diving is a focal point.)
At a gathering on Christmas Day with the man from New Zealand who works for the power company, his girlfriend, the engineer and some of Molly’s teacher friends, I learned about the many ongoing infrastructure projects here.
It surprised me to learn that there are many dollars being invested in Majuro because, several weeks before I arrived, there was a story on the front page of the New York Times out of Paris, during the global climate summit, that outlined how Majuro is slipping in to the sea and is expected to be nonexistent in 30 years.
When I mentioned this at our Christmas party, the fellow working for the electric company said no one was ready to give up on the island. “They will keep improving it and living as if it is not going anywhere,” he said.
It fascinates me that in less than a week I have met all of these interesting people, each of them with stories that keep me entertained and asking questions.
The people who have given me the most joy so far, though, are definitely the children.
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