On 23 September 2014, a 26-year old poet from the Marshall Islands spoke to 120 heads of state at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. Selected from 544 candidates, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner performed an impassioned poem entitled “Dear Matafele Peinem”, written to her 6-month old daughter, that triggered a standing ovation and tears of inspiration from world leaders.
That day in New York, the world witnessed a bold changemaker rise up and embark on a heroic journey to save her sinking country, as well as the Pacific and beyond.
Earth Company joins and supports Kathy’s journey in building the foundations of her organization, Jo-Jikum, and maximizing her potential as a captain navigating the impending world of unpredictable, irreversible changes for future generations.
Born in the Marshall Islands and raised in Hawaii, Kathy is a Marshallese writer, poet, journalist, climate change activist, and teaches at the College of the Marshall Islands. During college, Kathy began to write poetry and perform, inspired by the Bay Area’s social justice scene. Since receiving her masters degree in Pacific Island Studies at the University of Hawai’i in Manoa, Kathy has:
Kathy now dedicates herself to empowering future generations of Pacific Islanders to not only survive but also thrive in the impending world of unpredictable, irreversible shifts due to climate change.
You can read Kathy’s writing on her website, kathyjetnilkijiner.com.
Kathy has the ability to mobilize youth, charisma to inspire, and leadership to make real changes in the world. Her mission is to save her own home, the Marshall Islands, from inundation due to climate change. Earth Company believes, however, she will go beyond her islands to represent the entire Pacific region in global conversations, leading youth from around the world to stand up for their rights and fight. During our Impact Hero selection process, people around her spoke glowingly of her commitment, talent, and potential. Earth Company is proud to support her and believes in her; the world needs her.
The world’s biggest, most-complicated, most long-term problem faced by humankind
Since the Industrial Revolution, Earth has warmed by 0.85ºC.
The status quo could see a rise of 4ºC by 2100.
Failing to keep this rise below 2ºC will take the world into unchartered territory.
On 12 December 2015 in Paris at the COP21, representatives from 196 nations made a historic pact, pledging that the world will keep the average global surface temperature “well below 2℃.” The pact also committed to “pursue efforts” to limit the increase since preindustrial times to 1.5℃ as a 0.5℃ difference poses a critical threat to humanity and beyond. The deal still needs to be adopted by individual governments, but the Paris agreement has been hailed as transformative and groundbreaking – a tidal wave of global consensus and momentum!
The Republic of the Marshall Islands is an island country in Micronesia in free association with the United States. Spread out over 29 coral atolls comprising 1,156 individual islands and islets, it stands near the equator in the Pacific Ocean at 2m above sea level on average.
In 2013, severe droughts forced 6,000 islanders to survive on less than 1 liter of water per day and resulted in the failure of food crops and the spread of diseases. Increasing numbers of islanders are now moving to the United States, concerned about the impact of climate change on future generations.
The threshold to save the Marshall Islands from climate change and rising sea levels
If we as a mankind let these islands submerge, their people will lose not only their ancestral home, but something equally important – a sense of home, identity, culture, and thousands of years of history, leaving them wandering around rootless with only a passport to call home.
The Marshallese youth are inheriting a country they might someday be losing to climate change. This drove Kathy and her cousins to found Jo-Jikum in 2010 to transform these youth from passive victims into active navigators of their complex future.
When it comes to climate change, experts’ voices make headlines; victims’ voices sink below. But now, the Marshallese youth are standing up to fight for their future, their home, and themselves.
Today, Jo-Jikum empowers youth to:
The Marshallese youth will be forced to live with the devastating consequences of climate change. And yet, when it comes to climate change, their voices are not heard. Jo-Jikum believes in the power of youth voices, and their ability to make changes if given the opportunity and support.
In the past decade, the Marshall Islands has dealt with the worst inundations, king tide flooding and droughts often leading the country to declare a state of emergency.
Jo-Jikum supports immediate disaster relief on the ground – through workshops, surveys, and relief funds.
The loss of indigenous traditions and culture is one of the most pressing consequences of climate change. What will happen to the culture if the land is lost? Jo-Jikum creates a dialogue across generations, mediums and skills to preserve the sacred knowledge for future generations.
While Jo-Jikum means “Your Home” in Marshallese, the nonprofit does not have a physical home of its own. As a low-resourced startup, it has been renting out space wherever available for its activities. Even without a physical bedrock, its flagship program, Earth Champions, has managed to send its youth representatives to COP events, the One Young World Summit, and the World Humanitarian Summit. Jo-Jikum seeks to build a center to have more sustainable and substantial impact on the future of the Marshall Islands and beyond.
Earth Company is fundraising for the Jo-Jikum Center until June 2017. We need your support!
Required to build Jo-Jikum Center
In the past decade, Marshall Islands has dealt with the worst inundations and king tide flooding the country has seen. Jo-Jikum aims to provide relief for those whose homes are damaged / destroyed by the flooding and king tides.
Please contact us if you are interested in supporting this cause!
A target Jo-Jikum aims to have in the fund at any one time
Earth Company aims to raise US$100,000 to build a center where Jo-Jikum will conduct its activities to transform their youth from passive victims of the climate change into active navigators of their complicated future.
By having a center, Jo-Jikum will be able to nurture more leaders capable of changing the future of the Marshall Islands maximizing their impact in the Pacific and beyond.
For organizations like Jo-Jikum operating in low-resource settings, building institutional reputation and brand presence are equally as important as fundraising.
As such, Earth Company supports Kathy and Jo-Jikum boost their media presence and develop strategic partnerships. Through this support, Earth Company seeks to provide longer-term benefits to Kathy and Jo-Jikum.
Jo-Jikum, like most nonprofit startups, faces various challenges in the areas of funding, partnerships, and management. At the request of Jo-Jikum, Earth Company provides consulting services in nonprofit management to build the foundations of Jo-Jikum and to maximize their impact. This has started with an assessment of Jo-Jikum’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as a restructuring of core programs and activities.
More coming soon….
ー Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner
$50,000+ (with intentions of long-term support)
Hinoki, a Japanese real estate company, owns and manages a number of commercial and residential properties in cosmopolitan Tokyo and rural Japan. Driven by a fervent social conscience, the company provides support to many innovative ventures in Japan. Hinoki has generously donated $50,000 to Kathy and her NGO Jo-Jikum.
$500+ | technical support | strategic partnership