As a student in his final year at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, Winder Loeak, 30, has taken an active role in the Marshall Islands Student Association (MISA) for the Pacific student campaign. Alongside his fellow members, Winder has done on- and off-campus presentations on the nuclear weapons testing conducted in the RMI, engaged in panel discussions, and participated in dialogue sessions with students, government officials and nuclear activists in the region.
“I see the nuclear legacy as an open wound that continuously gets infected through or from lies, broken promises, misinterpretations and denials by our closest counterpart (the US),” he said. “Although my grandparents saw the explosion, I personally believe that all of us are nuclear survivors one way or the other.”
Winder had been listening and following nuclear and climate champions and was inspired by their influence on global citizens. Winder was further motivated by leaders to make a difference on issues threatening his island nation. “Both climate change and the nuclear legacy are man-made (problems) that have affected our biodiversity, have dislocated our people, introduced new maladies, shattered our manit (traditions), and constantly threaten our rights as human beings and rights to live in peace and harmony,” he said.
With a little push and sense of belief he was able to face Pacific heads of state on the affect of nuclear contamination on oceans during the UN Ocean Preparatory Conference in 2017, coinciding with the day MISA4Pacific and the “My Fish is Your Fish” campaign took off.
Winder believes it is important to get involved in the nuclear conversation especially now because “it allows one to reflect and understand the nature of colonial supremacy and pity.” He has seen that people do not learn about the nuclear legacy in elementary or even high school, stating that most only start realizing the tragedy of the nuclear test legacy when abroad for university and conducting academic research.
Read more about this in the October 11, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.