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A selection of photos from Swim for West Papua

September 10, 2017

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Meet the team: Joel

February 7, 2017

 

As a child, I remember being scared of water. Jumping into a swimming pool was a terrifying idea. I remember all the other children doing it straight away but it took my 10 minutes to pluck up the courage. 

 

This changed over time and I progressed in my swimming over the years, but never thought I'd have to swim anywhere other than a swimming pool. Then, in 2012 I spent 6 months working on a marine conservation project in rural Fiji with a company called GapForce. This was an experience that shaped me on many levels and has lead me to the position I find myself in now.

 

At the UK Parliament for the launch of the Swim For West Papua global petition.

 

I returned to the UK later that year to begin studying my undergraduate degree and was keen to keep up with the issues facing the Pacific region. My primary interest was marine based and I began scouting places I'd like to scuba dive. It was then that I found out about the crisis going on in West Papua. Ever since, every trip back to that part of the world I was also plagued by a question...

 

"How and what can I do to help?"

 

After graduating in July 2015 I decided to travel again - I joined a crew on a boat called Infinity. We spent seven weeks sailing from Vanuatu to Papua New Guinea after which I returned home and took a temp job in London. One day standing at a photocopier, bored out of my mind, I began wondering again...

 

"How and what can I do to help?" 

 

I was inspired by an Archbishop Desmond Tutu quote I'd read somewhere, "Do what you can with what you have". This made me think, "Well, the answer must be right in front of me". What do I have? Who do I know?

 

It was then the crazy idea hit me "What if we swam the petition from one end of Lake Geneva to the UN at the other end?"

 

The circumstances and connections that have since come together and given birth to Swim for West Papua mean that we are indeed able to do something. 

 

Fast forward 8 months, I had no idea the petition would be a significant as it is. At the photocopier the petition was just a bit of paper that read "West Papua Petition". It blows me away and is a great honour to be allowed to deliver such a significant document to the United Nations. 

 

 

This began as a crazy idea, and  it still is a crazy idea. You could say with its added significance it's become even more outrageous and crazy: it is now a living breathing reality. It's going to happen.

 

While standing at that photocopier, not knowing that the idea would develop into a reality as it has, I decided that if just one more person found out about what was going on in West Papua, then it'd worth it.

 

Although I love keeping fit, this is a task that will require a huge amount of commitment and dedication. But fortunately we have the right people onboard. I have to thank the Free West Papua campaign and Benny Wenda, who loved the idea from the moment they heard about it. Goodness knows where it will lead, but my primary aim is - and has been from the beginning - to highlight the plight of the West Papuan people. This is not about us, it's about them!

 

Together, with your help, we can make an impact, draw a line in the sand where West Papua is concerned and spread news of this injustice to the world.

 

I am motivated by my faith, a deep sense of injustice and my love of the Pacific.

 

Providing there is injustice in the world there is always something to do, and doing nothing is never a better option.

 

If you want to be part of this team - and we'd love you to be with us - add your name to the petition. In that way you can #BackTheSwim and help #LetWestPapuaVote.

 

 

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