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Madrid, SPAIN – December 9, 2019: 9pm (PEJN): Samoa’s babies taken by the measles epidemic have been remembered with a poignant poem during an informal dedication gathering of staff running the Pacific pavilion here on Sunday.

Thousands of the more than thirty thousand people attending the 2019 climate talks in Madrid have visited the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion, an events and networking space which has been a drawcard for those seeking out Pacific messaging and presence at the global climate negotiations.

Youths at the Pacific Pavilion. Photo: LISA WILLIAMS/PEJN

This week from Madrid, where negotiators continue to fly in as the COP25 passes the halfway mark and steps up a gear towards the closing plenary this Friday,  the Moana Blue Pacific team hosting events at the Pavilion marked the moments before opening to the world,  to have a moment of prayer and reflection on the challenges involved in their journey of many months to launching one of the most popular spaces of the COP25.

The switch in venue from Chile to Madrid and the Measles epidemic in Samoa, where the coordinating work for the Pacific presence in COP 25 was lead, added more layers to the technical preparations for the event..

SPREP staffer Audrey Brown-Pereira drew on her creative background as a performance poet to deliver what she termed “a little poem” in acknowledgement of the measles epidemic running its tragic course in Samoa. “While we are here for the challenges of climate change, the reality is there are many struggles, may challenges in our Pacific”, Brown-Pereira told the small gathering. It was a poignant moment for the mainly Samoan Pavilion crew, many of them staff with SPREP in Samoa whose thoughts were very much with families and communities going through a more immediate crisis in Samoa.
Brown-Pereira entitled her piece ‘Where have our children gone’, drawing inspiration from the Blue Pacific and the many children and youth at the Madrid Summit, to deliver her words:

There is a fever not broken/like the ocean within us/around us/beside us/inside us.
It is rising rising rising/and the fever like the sun getting hotter and hotter. Too hot, too close, can’t breathe.
Circles and shadows and circles and shadows swallowing all brown-ness from our skin, consuming us, enraging us, killing us.
Where have our children gone?
There is no darkness no light no joy- just a heavy silence from the ones left behind.
We who were supposed to go first
There is a fever not broken/like the ocean within us/around us/beside us/inside us.
And it must stop.

SPREP Media and Communication team at the Pacific Pavilion at the COP25 in Madrid. Photo: LISA WILLIAMS/PEJN

The poem brought tears for the small team attending the dedication, who are at a COP event where the youth and children are leading such a pivotal part and Pacific delegations such as Niue are mainly young people.

It’s an ironic moment too for those Samoan youth activists able to join the street march for climate knowing young people currently unable to do any of that right now in Samoa, where a state of emergency is in place banning anyone under 19 from being at any public gatherings.
Of the 65 measles related deaths reported by Samoa as of December 7, 62 were 19 years and younger..

  • Our Pacific Environment Journalists Network (PEJN)s independant reporting from COP25 has been made possible with a travel stipend from a multi-stakeholder project helping Pacific nations walk their climate ambition talk towards a 1.5 future. Google  #PacificNDCHub for details. Find out more on what your Pacific nation is doing to walk the climate talk from the Senior Technical  Adviser of the SPC/GIZ Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific program, christine.fung@giz.de

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