Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The work of an environmentalist can be difficult at times. Most people would often wonder what drives certain people to do the work they do in trying to save our environment.
For Daniel Loo, his passion for the environment has always been with him from a very young age.
He is a volunteer for Greenpeace and was onboard the M.Y Esperanza in peaceful protest against fishing vessels from Taiwan, Philippines, China and the US.
Originally from Kiribati, his father is from Arorae Island while his mother is from Onotoa.
Although he is of Chinese, German and Irish decent, Daniel was born in Suva but brought up in Levuka.
His family moved to Fiji after the Second World War when Japan invaded Kiribati.
His father was an electrician while he believes his mother is the best mother anyone could have.
Growing up in Levuka was a beautiful experience for Daniel. His parents worked very hard to provide him and his five siblings with a good life.
"I like to call Levuka my hometown as I grew up there before moving back to Suva in order to further my studies. I have four brothers and a sister. My brothers and I have all finished high school and we are now working. My sister attends Veiuto primary," he said.
"My parents worked hard and have given me so much. They have been very supportive of me while I've pursued things like voluntary community work and environmental activism. I always wanted to be a teacher but I was not quite sure what subject I wanted to teach."
After completing high school, he obtained a full scholarship to study education at university.
However, he decided to study accounting.
He was always a passionate environmentalist although he was never vocal about it.
He was quietly aware of pressing environmental issues that Greenpeace addressed.
"Being onboard the Esperanza has motivated me to take up linguistics. I am so interested in languages. It is so beautiful to learn to speak and write a different language. A friend on Esperanza taught me Mandarin. Hopefully, if I manage Mandarin, I will learn French as well.
"I remember my wonderful English teacher Mrs Salacakau and because of that experience I always thought of pursuing a career in teaching. I do not really enjoy working in an office. Teaching is something I may do later in life."
Daniel attended primary school at Yat Sen before going to Marist Convent in Levuka.
He then spent secondary school at Levuka Public School before attending USP.
Daniel was also working as a research officer for a media website. He later did community service with the Rotaract Club of Suva.
"I worked part time while studying. I was finance service director when I was with Rotaract Club of Suva and I later became the international director. This was a great experience. I had the opportunity to work with inspiring young people who wanted to make a difference in their communities.
"We organised fundraisers that benefited needy communities and individuals. We were all young and enthusiastic and we organised some really good fundraisers that attracted a lot of support from the community."
He was part of a 10 member Pacific group chosen for the Rotary Overseas Travel Award and the Rotary Youth Leadership Award in 2004. One of the highlights while on Esperanza was watching a Greenpeace activist free a turtle from a Taiwanese long line fishing boat. He said it was an overwhelming moment that would never be forgotten.
"Being on Esperanza has been fantastic. I work with a lot of talented people. We have qualified chemists, doctors and marine biologists working as deckhands. It is so inspiring to see different people from various walks of life working together on board. Everyone is appreciated.
"I have also seen dolphins and tuna swimming in groups near our ship. It was so beautiful. I felt they were showing their appreciation for our efforts to defend the oceans. I have dealt with many hardships but I have learnt we all must experience hardship in order to achieve what we want."
His advice for young and upcoming environmentalists is to be "yourself and follow your dreams".
Daniel has shown what it takes to fight for something one is most passionate about. His contribution to the establishment of marine reserves in the Pacific Ocean is one that calls for appreciation and gratitude.