Sermary’s Family Education Fund

Sermary in Kiribati with one of her children, before relocating to New Zealand.

Our Fundraising Goal
Following the completion of the documentary film Anote’s Ark by Matthieu Rytz, premiering at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, we’re aiming to raise money to create an education fund for the seven children of one of the film’s main characters, Sermary Tiare. Our goal is to raise $1,000 New Zealand Dollars for each child, for a total of $7,000 (about $6,330 CAD) over the course of the following year, as the film is seen by audiences around the world.

About Anote’s Ark
The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati (population: 100,000) is one of the most remote places on the planet, seemingly far-removed from the pressures of modern life. Yet it is one of the first countries that must confront the main existential dilemma of our time: imminent annihilation from sea-level rise. While Kiribati’s President Anote Tong races to find a way to protect his nation’s people and maintain their dignity, many Kiribati citizens are already seeking safe harbour overseas. Set against the backdrop of international climate and human rights negotiations, Anote’s struggle to save his nation is intertwined with the extraordinary fate of Sermary, a young mother of seven, who fights to migrate her family to New Zealand. At stake is the survival of Sermary’s family, the Kiribati people, and 4,000 years of Kiribati culture.

Sermary is reunited with one of her children in New Zealand.

About Sermary
Sermary (Tiemeri) Tiare is a mother of seven, born in 1980 on the remote atoll of Abemama in Kirabati. While living in Kiribati, she owned a small business selling food to primary schools. In February 2015, Sermary became one of 75 Kiribati people who was awarded New Zealand citizenship as a response to the rising sea levels that threaten the islands and the irreversible damage that climate change poses to the Kiribati nation. Once in Auckland, she not only felt out of place in an urban environment, she was faced with feelings of isolation as she waited for her children and husband to join her.

Once her whole family was able to make the move, she was faced with new challenges as her husband Ratati was often forced to work in remote areas of New Zealand, and Sermary was left to manage their family’s needs on her own. These profound changes were further amplified by the knowledge that one day her country will disappear due to rising sea levels, with her homeland no more than a distant memory for her children.

Today, Sermary is focused on providing the best possible future for her children and looking forward to returning to work as a caregiver. Although her family likes New Zealand, they often miss the community and local foods of Kiribati. She is hopeful that life in her adopted home will afford more educational opportunities for her family.

One of the Pacific island in Kiribati, where Sermary grew up.

Why we’re seeking your help
With your help, we want to assure a more comfortable and sustainable life for Sermary and her family. She generously shared her story with the world over the course of the filming of Anote’s Ark, raising awareness about the plight of her people, and those of all island-dwellers who will eventually be affected by climate change. This is your opportunity to make a concrete difference in her life and that of her children.

How the funds will be used
The funds raised in this campaign will primarily be used to pay for Sermary’s children's’ education, as well as to cover any necessary travel costs to her homeland in Kiribati.

Matthieu Rytz - Director, Writer & Producer of Anote's Ark

A few words from the Director
My name is Matthieu Rytz, and I have become obsessed with the people I’ve met in Kiribati. In 2012, on a trip from Panama to Colombia, I visited an archipelago of more than 375 islands known as the Kuna Yala. There, for the first time, I came face to face with a people whose land was about to disappear. I began working on a photo essay, which was eventually published in the New York Times.

I decided that I needed to explore this issue in greater depth, so I left for the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Kiribati, where I spent the month of January 2014 documenting the lives of the people there. I was immediately drawn to Sermary and her family when I met her. Her warmth and generosity in sharing her story, amid such challenging environmental and personal circumstances, stood out amongst the many individuals that I met.

After this trip to the Pacific, I felt both righteous anger at the injustice of her situation, and a sense of powerlessness in the face of such an inevitable outcome. I wanted people around the world to see the impact that climate change is having on vulnerable people and nations today, far away from the news cameras and the centres of power.

I am so pleased to have been able to complete the film and share Sermary’s story with the world. Please help us in giving back to Sermary and her family.

Thank you.
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EyeSteelFilm Inc.
Montréal, QC

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