A series on returning to a South Pacific homeland

Western Province, Solomon Islands. Photo: Merinda Valley

I can’t walk down the street in Solomon Islands without turning heads, drawing sidelong glances or eliciting comments. My mere presence sparks curiosity.

It doesn’t matter that my features match those of my mother, a full-blooded Solomon Islander. It doesn’t help that I wear a shell necklace nearly every day — a nod to my lineage of Langalanga people who make the prized jewelry and a silent plea to passersby: “Please recognize that I am one of you.”

I’ve endured stares all over the world, but somehow they sting more under the tropical sun. …


Coastal communities in Solomon Islands restore marine ecosystems with mangroves

Veronica Fetiasia of Oibola, Solomon Islands plants a mangrove propagule. Photo: Merinda Valley

Like many people who live by the sea in Malaita Province, Solomon Islands, Dominic Odugalo is a fisherman. After dropping out of secondary school in 1985, he began working on the water full time. He would travel by outboard motor from his community of Radefasu to a nearby island, fish through the night to fill three hefty coolers and sell his spoils at the market.

Over the years, he saw his yield shrink drastically.

“We’d stay a long time and catch just two or three fish,” 52-year-old Odugalo says. “That’s one indicator that you have a problem in the area.”

Merinda Valley

Navigating between my Solomon Islands and U.S. homelands. Writing about the culture and the coconuts.

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