The BBC has screened a revealing documentary that captures the beauty and charm of St Helena, but also confronts the realities of life on the island.
People in the UK can see at on the BBC iPlayer at any time up to 20 April 2015.
The half-hour film tells its story through six Saints who reflect on the way things have been, and what they might become. Among them is the late Trevor Otto Thomas, a much-loved fisherman and observer of island life.
Before his unexpected death in December 2014, he told of his concerns about what the airport will mean for the islanders’ way of life.
“Britain is not going to put an airport here for £400m and then we live the same old way we did 20 or 30 years ago,” he says in the film.
“They will want changes. It’s coming.
“People feel as though they are not being listened to and it makes you angry. And then when you say something that is contrary to what is being presented to you, you are being ‘negative’.”
Ivy Ellick, formerly a senior government official, laments the departure of many Saints for new lives overseas, and hopes the airport will “quench that thirst to leave the island… and will hopefully bring our Saints back.”
Viewers watch Melanie Caesar hug her children on the sea front as she prepares to leave them for a year or more to work overseas, having abandoned the struggle to support them on the meagre income she can earn on the island. The pain is clear to see.
Father Dale Bowers also makes a number of telling observations on the hardships of island life, for which director Dieter Deswarte made several visits to St Helena.
Saints is billed as “a film about a small place becoming part of a bigger world; a coming-of-age story about a small community growing up in a globalised world.” It was screened several times over the weekend of 20-22 March 2015 on BBC Freeview channels.
Reaction on Facebook has been positive. The film has also prompted some people to post messages on the site recalling their own family separations.
One said: “I’ve been on that sea front crying my eyes out a few times.”
Watch the film on the BBC iPlayer here