‘Your Home’ gets new HQ

President Hilda Heine, fifth from left, with Jo-Jikum members and supporters at the opening of the group’s new youth center in Uliga. Photo: Kelly Lorennij.

KELLY LORENNIJ

The youth non-profit Jo-Jikum, which means “your home,” finally has a place to call home after years of working without a roof over the heads of its Earth Champions. Jo-Jikum Director Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner calls the NGO and its new headquarters a “labor of love” that has come a long way from its humble beginnings.

During the opening and blessing ceremony last Friday donors and sponsors from the ROC Taiwan, Japan and US embassies were able to tour the small, but homey center.

Standing across from the Won Hai Shien restaurant in Uliga, the single room center sits on the corner of the backroad intersection. The white and green-lined building is furnished with hand-crafted desks and tables made from local materials.

“Balancing performances, writing and traveling with running a non-profit in Majuro has been hard work, but this is an important part of the equation for my work,” Jetnil-Kijiner commented on her social media. As such work entails writing poetry on local and international stages for which she is well known for interweaving issues such as climate change and nuclear contamination with traditional stories and culture. “Writing has fed into Jo-Jikum, and Jo-Jikum has also fed into my writing,” she added.

The team that bears the brunt of the work on the ground include Project Manager Jina David, who doubles as Arrak/Jeirok councilman, and financial advisor Meitaka Kendall who also teaches Business at the College of the Marshall Islands.

Alongside these two are the Earth Champions including Cansecho Carmel and Walter Jinuna who have been able to write up grant proposals and complete projects. Jetnil-Kijiner also stressed that the work would not be possible if not for the youth like Bryant Zebedy and Albers “AJ” Alik, Jr. who helped to develop Jo-Jikum.

Read more about this in the September 20, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.

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