Agnes Henson-Derby, Public Relations
In 1978, I arrived in the UK for a six months stay; more than thirty years later and I am still living in the UK! In fact I decided to stay on and adopted this country as my homeland with a return visit to Kiribati regularly.
My first ten years were spent in a tiny Lincolnshire farming village called Marton where everybody had never heard of Kiribati until I arrived. Every time I told people where I came from, the usual reply was "where's that?" It was at this point that I felt that the public needed a bit of Geography Lessons. So I set out with a campaign to teach the locals all about Kiribati, its people and their unique culture.
In 1982 I moved to Chesham, Buckinghamshire and for sixteen years, I made sure that Chesham and its surrounding areas were well informed about Kiribati.
I am also passionate about raising awareness about Global Warming and Climate Change and its effect on Kiribati. For more than ten years, I had given speeches throughout the UK and wrote articles for various institutions like the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth Foundation, British Museum, Museum of Scotland to name a few. Whenever I go back to Kiribati and I notice huge changes in the coast which is being eaten away by high tides and in some areas fresh water is unfit for drinking due to the rising sea level . People noticed that the crops are failing to mature properly, which is a worry if you are on the outer islands without supermarkets as an alternative for food. Most of the islands are no higher than six feet above sea level and it would not take long for them to be affected if the sea level keeps on rising. That is why I campaign hard for people to listen to the desperate cries of Kiribati for help and support from the richer and bigger countries who are the main source of pollution to the environment. Without the help and the support from these countries, Kiribati will be one of the first country to submerge under the sea and its people will be the first nation of Climate Change refugees.
I have been lucky and honoured that Mostly Movies Companies have taken interest in my campaign and for ten years they had been following me documenting my works as I try to raise awareness about Global Warming and its effect on Kiribati. We plan to go to Kiribati once we can secure a sponsorship to finish off the filming on the islands and to look closely at the damage caused by the rising sea level and how people cope with it. Once the documentary film is completed, it would be distributed to as many countries as we can and in that way then I know that I am spreading the word throughout the world. And hopefully the world will listen and will come to help save Kiribati. Visit www.thecommonwealth.org and www.pacificislandsuk.org
Five years ago, I started a charity in Bairiki Village, Tarawa Kiribati to support the youth through sport. In the first year, it was only a handful of youngsters who joined the football and the volleyball games. The Henson Cup celebrated the life of my nephew Henson, who died young. He loved football. During the second year running of the charity, we were honoured to have the Minister of Sport attending the final match unexpectedly. He acknowledged the importance of the Henson Cup for the youngsters and how it has supported them to promote themselves positively.
Last year, I was informed by my family that we had thirteen football teams including primary school children and eight volleyball teams. I want to promote positive thinking in the youngsters and that is why I am supporting them as long as I can. I am going back to see the youngsters this year and plan to take a professional football coach with me to teach and help the youth of Bairiki to achieve their ambition to be professional footballers and who knows, maybe one day they will make it into an international football team. It is a high goal but they have to think positively and aim high to achieve in life.