Reporter Rei-Yuin Chu and photojournalist Alberto Buzzola from the Taiwanese magazine Rhythms Monthly (RM) have seen many of the wonders and problems of our planet. Now their work has taken them to Gibraltar and our charity. Despite their busy schedule they were so kind to give us an interview.
Mrs Chu and Mr Buzzola are both highly regarded in their field of work and have contributed to many documentaries. Mrs Chu - whose name has the beautiful meaning 'Little Branch Bamboo Dwelling' - has for example taken part in RM's multi-year project '3R - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' and thus travelled the world to report on ways to best preserve the environment.
Mr Buzzola is a contract photographer for RM, based in Taiwan. He has worked for magazines such as Geographic World, Forbes and Vogue and for many media from his home country Italy. Additionally he carries out his own works in places such as Afghanistan and Romania.
Travelling the World's Most Important Straits
Their current project – a piece about life in the world's most important straits – now brought Mrs Chu and Mr Buzzola to Gibraltar.
They explain that in their eyes "straits are very peculiar geographic locations with many implications. Straits divide land, people, cultures. At the same time they could unite people for a better understanding of each other and to become more tolerant towards diversity. A respective beginning could be to jointly work on the preservation of life in the water which divides the lands. They could share the knowledge that will definitely benefit to human awareness."
During their stay in Gibraltar they said they intend to interview people from all social strata, "whether government officials or ordinary people. To us everyone has an interesting story to tell and knowledge to share."
The Helping Hand Trust: In Tune with RM's Values
Talking about our charity, both Mrs Chu and Mr Buzzola said that the work of the Helping Hand "is very much in line with what our foundation 'preaches'. Working for the betterment of the ever endangered environment is what our foundation has at heart most. Covering the work done by organisations such as the Helping Hand Trust is essential to bring to our readers a better understanding of how we could all contribute to make this world a better place to live in."
The Taiwanese Environment
Asked whether there are charities in Taiwan which are similar to ours, Mrs Chu and Mr Buzzola replied, that there are several organizations which work towards the preservation of marine life. Mr Buzzola for example has made a photographic documentary on the endangered giant green turtles, which are taken care of by an organisation similar to the Helping Hand Trust. With Taiwan being an island they explained, that there is a lot of need for marine conservation and that Taiwan only recently became aware of the huge environmental problems due to over-fishing.
Speaking about both the marine and terrestrial environment they explained that during the years of high industrialisation, Taiwan suffered heavily: "Forests were chopped down and the rivers treated as sewage where factories could discharge whatever they wanted."
"At that time the government and people did not pay enough attention to what they were doing. Money was the only driving force and the only thing that mattered. Today, fortunately, some people have awakened and are pushing the government to do something about our environment whether it is marine or terrestrial."
Mrs Chu and Mr Buzzola said that things are changing for the better but not as fast as they would wish. As the aim of RM is "to bring some of the world to Taiwan", they said they hope that "reporting on the Helping Hand Trust will raise awareness towards safeguarding marine life and enforcing the belief that something must be done - soon and in good spirit."
Gibraltar: "Fascinating and Unique"
Asked about their impression of Gibraltar and its people, Mrs Chu and Mr Buzzola replied: "Gibraltar is a fascinating and unique place. People are incredibly friendly and we are enjoying every moment of our stay, except the weather which has been very bizarre so far."
"It is a privilege to be here. We are grateful of this experience in Gibraltar, as we are grateful for the warm hospitality received. We are especially thankful to our colleague Brian Reyes and Dr Eric Shaw from the Helping Hand Trust and all the people in Gibraltar who have been unconditionally helpful in our endeavour. They were and still are instrumental to the success of our assignment. Our job could not have been done without them."
Tomorrow they will head to their next stop: The African side of the strait. From there they will move on to the Strait of Bab El Mandeb. We wish them a safe journey and thank them warmly for their interest in our work.