For our children’s children

Kathy Jitnil - Kijner narrating a poem at the United Nations Climate Change Summit 2014

In September this year, Kathy Jitnil-Kijner, a 26-year-old poet from the Marshall Islands recited her poem for her infant daughter at the UN Climate Summit. The poem highlighted the dreadful results of climate change and received a standing ovation, and was also reported to have “brought world leaders to tears”. 

Instead of explaining more on the poem, we present to you the poem itself: 

Dear Matafele Peinem

“Dear Matafele Peinem
You are a seven-month old sunrise of gummy smiles
You are bald as an egg,
And bald as the Buddha.
Your thighs are a thunder,
Shrieks that are lightning.
So excited for bananas, hugs
And our morning walks along the lagoon.
Dear Matafele Peinem,
I want to tell you about that lagoon,
That lucid, sleepy lagoon,
Lounging against the sunrise.
Men say that one day, that lagoon will
Devour You.
They say it will knock at the shoreline,
Chew at the roots of your breadfruit tree,
Gulp down rows of your seawalls,
And crunch through your island-shattered bones,
They say you, your daughter and your granddaughter, too,
Will wander rootless,
With only a passport to call home.
Dear Matafele Peinem,
Don’t cry.
Mummy promises you,
No one will come and devour you.
No greedy whale of a company,
Sharking through political seas,
No backwater bullying of businesses with broken morals,
No blindfolded bureaucracies,
Are going to push this Mother Ocean over the edge.
No one is drowning, baby.
No one’s moving.
No one’s losing their homeland.
No one’s going to become a climate change refugee.
Or should I say, no one else.
To the Carteret islanders of Papua New Guinea,
And to the Taro islanders of Fiji,
I take this moment,
To apologize to you.
We are drawing the line here,
Because baby, we are going to fight,
Your mommy, daddy,
Bubu,Jimma, your country, and president, too.
We will all fight.
And even though there are thosehidden behind platinum titles,
Who like to pretendthat we don’t exist,
That the Marshall Islands – Tuvalu, Kiribati, Maldives,
And Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines,
And the floods of Pakistan, Algeria, and Colombia,
And hurricanes, earthquakes, and tidalwaves,
Didn’t exist.
Still, there are those,
Who see us,
Hands reaching out,
Fists raising up,
Banners unfurling,
Megaphones booming.
And we arecanoes blocking coal ships,
We arethe radiance of solar villages,
We arethe rich clean soil of the farmer’s past,
We arepetitions blooming from teenage fingertips,
We arefamilies biking, recycling, reusing,
Engineers dreaming, designing, building,
Artists painting, dancing, writing,
We are spreading the word.
And there are thousands out on the street,
Marching with signs,
Hand in hand,
Chanting for change now.
They’re marching for you, baby
They’re marching for us.
Because we deserve to do more than justsurvive,
We deserveto thrive.
Dear Matafele Peinem,
Your eyes are heavy,
With drowsy weight,
So just close those eyes, baby,
And sleep in peace,
Because we won’t let you down.
You’ll see.”

Spread the word, speak out, make a change. 
And plant a tree, today.

SGI works with the twin objectives of combating climate change caused by the billion of us in urban areas as well as helping the billion who sleep hungry, have the assurance of two daily meals!

One of the most tried and tested -- and promising -- method to combat climate change is a simple one: plant trees. Planting trees takes care of a host of issues -- from pollution abatement to creating sustainable livelihoods.

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