[Ed. – What would we ever do without PBS NewsHour?]
The two women live in different parts of the world: one on a tropical island in the Pacific, another in a former war-torn African country now fighting Ebola.
Their lives are very different but they chose the same way to express their anguish and hopes for their situation: through poetry.
Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, 26, was born in Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands. The low-lying island chains in the Pacific Ocean are about halfway between Hawaii and Australia.
The population, numbering about 71,000, is contending with the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and more severe droughts and flooding.
When Jetnil-Kijiner was asked to present a poem at the opening of the U.N. Climate Summit in September, she thought about the toll climate change was taking. She thought of her baby daughter and all that she had to lose if the sea swallowed up her homeland.
“We shouldn’t have to leave. We should be able to stay where we were born and where our ancestors all have been,” she said in New York after delivering her poem to the U.N. representatives.