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Tears of joy as Climate Challenger returns home

Manuai Matawai aboard Climate ChallengerMANUAI MATAWAI | Supported by the Chalapi Pomat Writing Fellowship

AFTER A THREE MONTH epic canoe voyage, Climate Challenger has finally returned home.

It was around 8am, making a steady 10 knots with our sails well set, that we returned to Pere, our home, after a sometimes hazardous voyage that had taken us from Manus deep into the Solomon Islands and back to PNG again, hurrying north just ahead of the cyclone season.

On Pere I could see a crowd of waiting friends, families and loved ones who had flocked to the shore.

Echoes of the steady rhythm of the garamut filtered to my ears as we sailed in through the reef.

Nearby four canoes decorated with sago palms waited to escort us to the beach front. They were the proud seafaring canoes performing a guard of honour.

Climate Challenger under full sailWe, the crew of Climate Challenger, were also dressed in our traditional attire and danced to the beat of the garamut as we sailed in.

I kept my video camera rolling, filming every action. It will be a big celebration, I thought to myself. The garamut rocked Pere as traditional dancers danced in to meet us as the guard of honour escorted us ashore.

The flower girls put wreaths around our neck and we proceeded to meet the village chiefs, councillors and church elders who had lined up to receive us.

In every corner I could hear people shouting and cheering.  

Everyone was so proud and happy to see us back safe and sound.

The crew members were rounded up by their immediate families - shaking hands, chatting, crying. I could see tears of joy everywhere.

It was a proud moment of my life. 

The challenges, the sleepless night and stressful hour were over but the voyage is not over. There is far to go in making our Pacific an environmentally secure place.

It was indeed a relief to be on Pere.

We are finally back home and reunited with our families.


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Chalapi Pomat

Well done brother. Your arrival at Pere would have been something very special. I wish I was there. I could even feel the rhythm of the garamut from Newcastle.

What you and the crew of ClimateChallenger has achieved so far has made a huge difference to the coastal people.

And it has made you even stronger, hungrier and smarter for the next adventure. And that is to complete the rest of the mission.

Looking forward to catching up with you and the crew soon.

Winnie Kiap

Here is a proud Manus islander in London who sends her congratulations to Manuai Matawai and the Climate Challenger team on your epic journey. I am excited that our canoe did the distance.

As to the main issue, our islands are being affected and I can say that the coastline of Baluan no longer resembles the coastline I knew as a child. So I wish you all the very best in your advocacy effort.

I hope the world acknowledges in a meaningful and sympathetic manner that climate change contributes to existential challenges that small island states and their populations are left to grapple with.

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