By: Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner
World Ocean’s Day in Delap
MAJURO, Republic of the Marshall Islands –
Refrigerators, tires, car parts, washers, cans, and plastics weren’t the only waste collected during the morning hours of World Ocean’s Day this past June 9th. After 3 hours of roaming the beaches of Delap, packs of community members and students were able to collect 419 trash bags total, allowing volunteers to really take ownership of jo jikum, the Marshallese term for one’s place in the world.
The World Ocean’s Day cleanup covered six sites in the town of Delap on Majuro atoll in the Marshall Islands, including the coastal areas of Environmental Protection Agency, University of South Pacific, the Weather Station, Riwut, Likre, and Bikret. A total of 15 trash bags were collected from EPA and USP, 18 from the Weather Station, 58 from Riwut, 10 from Lekre, and a whopping 308 trash bags from the Bikret oceanside.
The cleanup in Delap was organized by Jo-Jikum, Jodridrik in Jipan Ene Eo Ekutok Maroro, a youth environmentalist group, in collaboration with MalGov, the Delap Alabs and Irooj, and Councilman Austen Jurelang and Councilwoman Stacy Samuel. Jo-Jikum targeted the public coastal areas while the Delap Alabs and MalGov encouraged Delap community members to clean around their own homes.
“MalGov elukuun tomak ilo partnership in ippen Jo-Jikum,” says Councilwoman Samuel. “Malgov truly believes in this partnership with Jo-Jikum. We’d like to get people in the habit of cleaning up like this. And if kids see the cleaning, they’re less likely to litter.” According to Samuel, MalGov will be organizing community wide cleanups at the end of every month, starting in July.
The purpose of the cleanup was to promote awareness on World Ocean’s Day, and on the importance of keeping the island and the ocean clean. Besides organizing a cleanup along the coastal areas, the group also collaborated with Marshalls Billfish Club for the Children’s Fishing fair and with the Raycrew Dive Shop to conduct an underwater clean up, where 10 bags of trash were collected from the coral reef flats. A video detailing the work of the Majuro Atoll Waste Company was also made to promote awareness of recycling and reusing.
“Armej ren kareo kareo kareo,” said Candice Guavis, MIMRA Fisheries Officer and also a Jo-Jikum member. “People need to clean, clean, clean! These kinds of events need to happen more often, not just for World Ocean’s Day.”