August 11th was an exciting day for many. It marked a new kind of commencement for WAM as fourteen young men received certificates of completion in an Advanced Carpentry and Entrepreneurship Program. The program was a great success. This was displayed, by the beautiful handcrafted wood carvings, frames,and furniture made out local Lukej wood.
Graduates with Yoshiko Yamaguchi from GEF. Photo: Tamie Bowman
Carved Lukej Government Seal with Yoshiko Yamaguchi reprenting GEF & WAM Director Alson Kelen. Photo: Joel Bowman
Friends, family, local business leaders along with President Heine attended this celebration of success and accomplishment.
It is WAM’s hope that the training received will help these young people realize their dreams and goals.
Every year the National Training Counsel (NTC) Trainees attend a Retreat Event held on the islet Eneko. This year is was held July 3-6, 2017 and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) trainees attended as well making a total of 32 trainees that attended the four day event. Group activities are a big part of the Vocational and Life Skills training during the retreat; therefore trainees are divided into groups to teach the importance of learning to work together. WAM staff was assigned to supervise the groups. The group activities encouraged the trainees to three areas:
- Decision-making skills
In addition each day cultural and traditional skills are taught and lived by. Group activities included a schedule to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as the following:
- handling fishing, throw net fishing and seafood hunting
- Coconut gathering, husking and grinding
- Instruction and participation in cooking Marshallese traditional food
- Learning how to make an underground oven (traditional oven)
To facilitate the skill of working together team activities such as the ones listed below were planned each day:
- Tug of War
- Over & Under
The Retreat proved to be very successful in helping the NTC trainees with an increased awareness of responsibility and the importance of taking assigned tasks seriously. This training has also prepared them to implement their goals and helped them to make decisions for their future.
Director Alson Kelen organizing activities. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
Director Alson Kelen with trainees giving instruction on climate change and the importance of protecting the environment. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
NTC trainees Thyin Laibwij, Jemori Bujen, Counselor Suemina Bohanny with Naijo Daniels making a local oven. Photo: Sealand Laiden
NTC trainees Rona Stephen, Jerryann Harkey, Jemori Bujen with Master Canoe Builder Binton Daniels his wife Naijo teaching how to make traditional food. Photo: Sealand Laiden
NTC trainee Jerryann Harkey doing prep work for traditional Bwiro (fermented breadfruit). Photo: Suemina Bohanny
Board Game enjoyed by NTC trainees Dusty Saito, Dalas Henry, Donny Erbin, Thyin Laibwij, Ryan Jikrok, GEF trainee Nashion Anrak. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
Retreat Volleyball. Photo: Isocker Anwell
Director Alson Kelen & his wife Benny making the retreat a success with their hard work. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
There is not many days left for the GEF trainees to be at WAM. The trainees in the last few months have worked hard to hone their skills in carpentry, carving, and entrepreneurship knowledge. They have participated and been a big part of two major events that WAM has held. An Open House Event was held on June 26, 2017 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm displaying the handmade wood products that the trainees in this program have produced from local woods. The Open House was attended by many in the community as well as family and friends. It was an opportunity for the GEF trainees to display their hard work and what knowledge and skills they have achieved from this Advanced Carpentry Program
The trainees in this program also participated in the Retreat to Eneko Island July 3-6, 2017. This retreat encouraged environmental awareness, manit (local customs and food), and self-identity thru various group activities. Learning to work in teams helped all trainees to see the need to work together to protect the environment and use it wisely.
A special session that took place during the retreat was when they went over to an islet near Eneko. The trainees were located on a small portion of sand that looks like a formation of a little islet. Alson the Executive Director of WAM begin talking to them about climate change and how it is part of their culture adaptation. This was the perfect setting to talk about climate change because not only did the trainees HEAR about climate change but they actually were able to SEE how the Marshall Islands is affected by climate change. The Retreat proved to be very successful in helping the GEF trainees with an increased awareness of responsibility and the importance of taking assigned tasks seriously. This training has also prepared them to implement their goals and helped them to make decisions for future employment and entrepreneurship. Completion of this successful program and graduation day are not far off.
GEF Trainees create a beautiful carved Government Seal from Lukwej. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
This is just a few of the beautiful handmade wood products the GEF trainees have made. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
One of the newest creations from WAM trainees is Rocking Chairs like this one. Pictured Etri John. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
Fish carving created by Maston John. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
Trainees help with transport of provisions to Eneko. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
Working together in group activities. Photo: Sealand Laiden
Group activities during Retreat. Photo: Sealand Laiden
Jerryann Harkey was WAM’s trainee of the month for the 2017 NTC program. She lives here in Majuro with her two sisters and her Bubu (Grandmother). From her participation in the WAM program Jerryann’s goal is to attend job core. Congratulations Jerryann for being the trainee of the month.
The WAM 2017 Vocational Program has an added feature this year with establishing a Youth Reference Group (YRG) from among the 2017 NTC trainees. The aim of the (YRG) is for the trainees to actively contribute to the evaluation of the program, increase their self-esteem, and increase their confidence. The YRG in particular will assist in the planning and organization of the Open House Event and the Graduation. This years YRG trainees are pictured below.
WAM 2017 Youth Reference Group. Pictured from left to right is Rona Stephen, Lestha Mokka, Donny Erbin, Johnson Anwel, Jerry Anjain, and Aklok Edward. Photo: Sealend Laiden
WAM’s 2017 Vocational Program started on April 3rd with 25 enthusiastic trainees. A pre evaluation was completed by each trainee identifying their personal goals from participating in the WAM program. To be employed was 60% of the trainees goal and 28% wanted to get their GED. Advanced education such as a trade or vocational school was the remaining 12% goal.
In weeks one to four the trainees were guided to look towards themselves. The theme was “Self Identity”. These weeks of the curriculum involved the life-skills counselors assisting the trainees in the process of obtaining social security numbers, birth certificates, bank accounts, health clearances and ID cards. The trainees were also introduced to the substance abuse counseling program and advised on time management and money management strategies. The trainees were informed on the knowledge about migrating through participating in a presentation by Internal Organization for Migration (IOM). The counselors have conducted completed Behavioral Health Screenings for 60% of the trainees. The remaining 40% will be completed in the next few weeks.
In weeks five to ten the theme was “Health”. This is where all the trainees learned about the importance of a healthy life style. The topics covered were suicide prevention, substances, inhalants and drugs and STI’s/HIVs. The focus of these weeks were an introduction for the trainees in independent living skills by working on the garden and having guests such as the Wellness Center teach trainees how to cook healthy meals using local foods. There were guest speakers from CMI Peer to Peer Educators, Youth to Youth in Health, Kumit Bobrae, and Jerry Nii to extend trainees knowledge of local services. Also, the Youth Reference Group (YRG) started their preparation for the open house. Starting the week of June 5th trainees will be introduced to basic computer skills that will help them in their employment search and continuing education after the completion of the WAM program.
Enjoy the pictures of these events.
Orientation Day with Director Alson Kelen and Counselors Suemina Bohanny & Sealend Laiden. Photo: Tamie Bowman
NTC Trainees for WAM Vocational Program 2017. Photo: Isocker Anwel
Vocational Orientation with trainer/navigator Binton Danel. Photo: Sealend Laiden
Vocational Training pictured left to right is Fredly Amlej, Idelia Stephen, Lestha Mokka, Carlos Kesai, Jerryann Harkey, Thyin Laibwij. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
Its busy times for WAM as the GEF trainees learn valuable skills in advanced carpentry and carving. Their first few weeks in February involved logging large Lukwej trees, and then milling them. This beautiful local wood was cut into slabs and some was seasoned in the salt water right outside WAM. The trainees of the GEF program started with making their own wood mallets in preparation for their training in carving. They also did carpentry work for the WAM office giving it a much needed upgrade.
Large Lukwej tree being milled by Oliber Mack and Matson John. Photo: Sealend Laiden
Stacked Lukwej slabs in WAM’s Canoe House. Photo: Sealend Laiden
Lukwej slabs being cured in saltwater with the assistance of trainees Dickson Randy, Matson John and Trainer Gregory Jokray. Photo: Sealand Laiden
Carpentry skills being used by Abija Lometo & Rusty Riklon. Photo: Sealend Laiden
Lukwej slabs curing. Photo: Sealend Laiden
In the days ahead they will being given small business start-up training enabling them to be self-employed upon graduation.
Whats happening at WAM these days?
A new Apprenticeship Project has begin funded by the Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Program. This new program at WAM will focus on Advanced Carpentry/Furniture Building Skills and Entrepreneurial Training.
The program will have a broad and long-reaching impact on the trainees and the community. With the skills acquired in carpentry the trainees will be made aware of the use and availability of locally sourced wood products to create such things as furniture, cabinets, caskets, cultural tools etc. This will reduce the need for such items to be imported. At the same time the trainees will be made aware of the environmental need of replantation of food trees. Training will be provided in such areas as basic business practices and financial planning so that each trainee can be empowered to have the goal of self-employment.
We are excited to be able to provide such training in these areas and can foresee the benefits of such training having a positive effect on the trainees and the community for years to come.
Director Alson Kelen with trainees on orientation day. Photo: Sealend Laiden
GEF trainees Etri John, Thompson Johnson, Adija Lometo, Matson John and Rusty Riklon on first day. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
GEF Trainees Oliber Mack and Anje Banjo with counselor Sealend Laiden during orientation. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
February GEF Trainee of the month Oliber Mack with wood hammer the first project for use in future creations. Photo: Sealend Laiden
GEF Trainees Etri John, Thompson Johnson, and Dickson Jitiam. Photo: Suemina Bohanny
Picture frame construction by GEF Trainees Maston John and Rusty Riklon w/trainer Gregory Jokray. Photo: Sealend Laiden
After many stormy day’s for weeks the sun came out and shined, as did the Vocational/Lifeskills 2016 Trainee Graduates! There was approximately 120 in attendance made up of family, friends and community leaders to see 14 young men and 4 young women receive their graduation certificates for completing the WAM program. The graduating Class of 2016 wore a t-shirt they personnel designed for just this day.
In just 6 months these trainees became more self-confident, improved their decision making, learned how to work together as a team and acquired many vocational skills. On display for family and community to see were the two sailing canoes built by the trainees as well as the many other woodworking crafts they had made. The trainees are provided with a Literacy course and they displayed their achievements in this area by presenting opening and closing speeches both in English and Marshallese. We are sure that these skills will help them in their future endeavors whether that be further education or employment.
After certificates of achievement were awarded all enjoyed a good lunch under the tree at the Marshall Islands Resort, and then some fun in the sun with the canoes. We congratulate them on their achievements at present and wish them many more to come in the future.
One of the two canoes built by the Class of 2016. Photo: J. Bowman
Trainee Scamyo Namdrik presents a welcoming speech to all in attendance. Photo: J. Bowman
Graduation t-shirt designed by the Class of 2016. Photo: J. Bowman
Trainees show off their woodworking skills. Photo: J. Bowman
Regina David presenting one of the closing speeches of appreciation. Photo: J. Bowman
In these last few weeks of our National Training Council Program the trainees had the opportunity to experience what it is like to be in the workforce. Local businesses opened their doors to the trainees giving them the chance to see just what its like to have a job. There were lots of smiles when we visited the various businesses to see how they were doing. Below are just a few pictures of some our trainees during their work on the job training. All trainees expressed that it was a great experience! They found working with other people, pricing inventory, and working in carpentry to be the most interesting part of the experience. The only thing they would change would be to have a longer time with the on the job training.
Bilton Ralpho and Scamyo Namdrik working with the True Value Team. Photo: Tolina Tomeing
Darlson Jomomo enjoying his experience at MWSC. Photo: Tolina Tomeing
John Juadrik stocking the coolers at K&K. Photo: Tolina Tomeing
Witney Jormile helping in the produce department at K&K. Photo: Tolina Tomeing
Maryann Kiluwe helping in the office at Ez-Price. Photo: Tolina Tomeing