Can travelogues reach recesses of the mind and prompt reflection in ways that extensively footnoted aid reports cannot? We speak to aid worker and author of The Rising Tide, Tom Bamforth, about what he learned from journeys on boat, helicopter, scooter and rattletrap bus in the islands of the Pacific. In the argot of aid, we also conducted some key informant interviews with those Tom met in the course of his travels, including Tataua Pese from Tuvalu and Linda Kenni from Vanuatu.
This is a memorandum of understanding about an aid worker in what the Tongan Fijian writer Epeli Hau’ofa called ‘this sea of islands’, of going beyond the tarmac road and seeking as many threads of a story as possible. We also uncover one of the few silver linings of COVID-19.
Recommended reading: Tom’s book is available here. Gordon has written a Development Policy Centre blog about travel writing and the courage to write candidly on aid. We also touch on the work of a number of wonderful Pacific authors in the podcast: Epeli Hau’ofa, Teresia Teaiwa and Regis Stella.
Behind the curtain: We are on air thanks to the ANU’s Development Policy Centre.
Visual credits: Airstrip sports in Tuvalu. Photo courtesy of Tom Bamforth.