Photographer Peter Caton returned to the Sundarbans six months after cyclone Aila. While he was there he showed the sinking Sundarbans photo-essay to the people there. Here's his story:

I was quite nervous to show the people of the Sundarbans my images that were so dear to me. I desperately wanted their recognition and approval that I had portrayed the Islanders in a justifiable way.

As we could not get a slide projector into this remote location I had to settle for showing locals in small groups. Group by group they were transfixed by the presentation and occasionally laughed if they saw a friend offering a striking pose!


The atmosphere was more positive than in previous visits. A late vital monsoon burst of rain had helped to wash away some of the salt from the rice paddies so small cultivations were springing up. Small yet significant harvests were relatively insignificant - yet they represented hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. To see one mans rice paddy turning green gave hope to others that the salt that the floods brought can be washed away next monsoon. Though the next monsoon was 9 months away.

After the show I received praise from all the locals. My guide told me that a videographer had recently shown them a similar presentation and it didn't go down well at all as it showed only the destroyed land. This however received a round of applause as we had focused on the people.

It was always made to be a tribute to their courage and I was thrilled that they recognised our human angle. It meant a great deal to me to show them the story that we worked so hard on and most importantly that they agreed that we had done the situation justice.

Although the presentation is being shown in Copenhagen, London and Brazil next year I don't think I will feel more humbled and honoured than I did when receiving the applause I did from the brave people of the Sundarbans.

-- Peter