February 27 is International NGO Day. Please join WAM and other NGOs throughout the country as we celebrate this important event.
The long anticipated and much needed Transitioning to Low Carbon Sea Transport project has gone underway. What exactly is TLCSeaT? What are its goals? How does WAM fit into this project? To answer these questions, it is only proper to take a step back and see why such an undertaking is crucial.
Marshallese, as far as history can tell us, have always been known for their superior boat building and sailing skills. Marshall Islands is first of all water then land. These two are inseparable in importance. You cannot fully appreciate one without the other. Then comes the 20th century and climate change. Using the mightiness of the vast Pacific Ocean as its own destructive weapon, climate change has attacked the small and enormously vulnerable and defenceless Marshall Islands. With carbon emission soaring at a rate unprecedented and major countries taking a step back in their fight against climate change, the Marshall Islands as we know it, is shrinking, and at an unprecedented pace. This is where WAM steps in through this breakthrough project: by building inside lagoon transports that will serve the people of the Marshall Islands and also serve as a platform in the uphill battle of climate change.
When the width of your island is 100 feet or less in many parts of Majuro and every other islands throughout RMI and they are losing 1-2 feet every time the tides come in, every small change and step is crucial to combat climate change. Hence, comes the TLCSeat Project, funded by the German government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuel Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Phase 1 has started already, with WAM and Marshall Islands Shipping Corporation building inside lagoon transport. The goal is to build 3 different prototypes closely resembling the uniqueness and simplicity of the Marshallese outrigger canoes.
The workshop to build these three prototypes commenced in January 20, with instructors Rob Denney and Henrik Richter-Alten taking the lead. Their students include the “WAM boys” Isocker Anwel, Binton Daniel, Raynold Lanwe, and Fredrick Botta. The other students are from the Marshall Islands Shipping Corporation or MISC. Together, they will build the boats and after 3 months, will do the initial test inside Majuro lagoon. The idea is that after the initial test, these prototypes, which emits ZERO carbon into the atmosphere, will be loaded onto the MISC copra fleet, in which the trainees will go from one atoll to another to collect copra and datas and to see whether these prototypes are seaworthy and “atoll-worthy.” The duration of this project will be for 3 years. Once it is completed, then plans will be made to sustain it so that Marshallese people, especially those in the outer islands, will use these eco-friendly and simple inside lagoon transport for years to come. Our goal has been and will always be to find a way to keep fossil fuel where it belongs, IN THE GROUND!
Stay tune for more update regarding this project!
Sept 4, 2019 was a Cancer Leadership Summit. Cancer continues to be one of the main causes of death in the RMI, particularly breast and ovarian cancer. Per capita, Marshall Islands leads the world in total cases of cancers in women, particularly ovarian cancer. To battle this deadly disease and to raise awareness and introduce prevention measures, the Ministry of Health and Human Resources has launched a series of programs, one of which is the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. One of the main challenges the Ministry is facing is lack of early detection, caused by patients not coming in for check-ups. As with many other diseases, PREVENTION is key. WAM send a delegation of 7 students to attend the Cancer Summit.
Every year, thousands of school-age children visit WAM’s facilities! WAM continues to attract and captivate these little curios minds. However, every now and then, WAM does it own field trips to various schools. This month, as part of WAM’s commitment to preserving “MANTIN MAJEL” (Marshallese customs and traditional ways), a delegation of several trainees visited selected public schools to showcase products that they personally made in WAM. As expected, these outreaches were very successful and lively! After several short presentations by each of the trainees, “POP QUIZZES” were held and little gifts were handed out to those who were paying attention. Book your school today at (692) 625-6123 or at email@example.com for a unique and FREE cultural presentation.
Every month during our annual 6-months NTC Training Program, a trainee is selected as “Trainee of the Month.” Selections are based on attendance, academic and vocational performance, and resiliency. Congratulations trainees!
Every once in a while, you have to do something different! Last Friday, WAM counselors Sealend and Rosan organized several fun activities for the trainees to enjoy after a full morning learning English and Math. Who wouldn’t enjoy doing something else after Math?
WAM’s annual 6-months Life Skill & Vocational Training is underway! WAM’s Executive Director Alson Kelen and staff held Orientation Day with the trainees on Monday, April 23. This year’s trainees include 3 young women with the hope of adding more to round it up to 25 total trainees.
October 18 until November 18 was a special time for WAM in world-renowned The Hague, Netherlands. A dynamic exhibition program known as Climate as Artifact was on full display in which artists, designers, scientists and society were brought together to review our perception of culture and nature. Amidst all of the various exhibitions was our very own lead trainer from WAM, Isocker Anwel, designing and building a traditional Marshallese canoe. Isocker was invited as a representative of WAM by Esther Kokmeijer to help build a traditional Marshallese outrigger canoe for the exhibition. Isocker left for The Hague on October 15th. Upon arriving, the task of building a traditional sailing canoe in just under 2 weeks started right away. Working closely with Esther Kokmeijer and Henrik Richter-Alten (GIZ) in building and designing a traditional Marshallese outrigger canoe thousands of miles away from home left a big mark on Isocker. “To see that even thousands of miles away, people want to know more about my culture, and a big part of that culture is centered on our canoes, that left a big impression on me. It taught me that that what we do in WAM is important, not just for Marshallese, but for other cultures as well.” This kind of trip and exposure goes hand-in-hand with WAM’s mission since its inception in the late 1990s, which has always been to work with the youth, their families and the local and international community to preserve and protect Marshallese culture and tradition through canoe building and sailing, and through this cultural connection develop life skills and a work ethic that creates meaning in the lives of all participants.
September 27, 2018 was an exciting day for 22 young people, a group of 18 young men and 4 young women! For them, Graduation Day was the result of 6 months of hard work and determination.
This was their time to shine, to express appreciation, and to reflect on what they had accomplished in the last 6-months. Community leaders, board members, friends, and family attended this event which was held under the big tree at the shoreline of WAM. Kumit Bobrae Director Janet Schmidt was emcee of the event with over a 100 people in attendance.
Opening remarks were made by graduate Angie Abal in English and Darween Gideon in Marshallese expressing on behalf of their fellow trainees their appreciation for this unique opportunity to be given a second chance in education and be encouraged to better their lives during this 6-month program.
During the final weeks of the WAM Life Skills/Vocational Program each trainee is placed at a local business as a volunteer for two weeks. This On the Job Training (OJT) can be a life changing experience, as many employers will offer employment to the trainee upon graduation from WAM. This has happened many times over the years proving that education is a key element to success!
Here are a few thoughts from this years employers who had WAM trainees for OJT:
“Trainee listens to instructions and carry’s out the task well. I would recommend him as he is eager to learn.”
“Trainee even worked Saturday even though is was not required.”
“Trainee was always on time and did not miss any work days.”
Every year one of the highlights of the WAM Life Skills Vocational Training Program is the Eneko Retreat. As part of the WAM NTC program, trainees are provided with the opportunity to learn traditional knowledge and skills (manit) and use them during a 4 day retreat to the islet of Eneko. This year, a total of 32 (22 trainees and 10 staffs including family members) participated in this event. One of the main objectives of this retreat is also to enhance the trainees life-skills, such as traditional life-styles, collaboration, communication, and substance abuse & drug abuse prevention.
Some of the activities covered during the retreat were fishing (line, throw & long-net), weaving of Marshallese baskets, under-ground cooking, cooking of traditional foods, and hunting. These activities are very important for the trainees to learn and understand as they are very much a part of the Marshallese culture. Many trainees have lived in the outer islands, but they said they learned a lot about Marshallese traditional skills that they never knew, while participating in this retreat.
WAM partnered with Kumit Bobrae Coalitions (KUMIT) and Okeanos Marshall Islands (OMI) during the retreat they helped WAM to provide valuable skills and knowledge. The Kumit Out-Reach team provided WAM trainees with an Out-Reach program that covered the topic of DUI’s (driving under the influence). Trainees really appreciated being able to understand how dangerous drinking and driving is and what can happen if you do so. By the end of their activity, 100% of the trainees vocally reported that the activity really enhanced their decision-making toward DUI. Later that same day the Okeanos of the Marshall Islands instructed the trainees on water safety and sailing. The two representative from Okeanos Marshall Islands made clear the importance of sailing without using fossil fuel.
Trainees also participated in various other activities to help them with collaboration, communication and team work skills:
- Tug of War
- Catch Balloon
- Weave Marshallese Basket
- Find the Quarter
- Talent Show
All these activities engage and involve the trainees, which facilitates a fun learning experience.
In order for the retreat to start, proceed, and end well WAM Staff and Trainers split trainees into 3 groups. Each group had two trainers and 1 counsellor assigned to it, this enabled each trainee to get the most benefit out of the retreat. These groups were assigned to rotate certain responsibilities, which included breakfast, lunch, and dinner preparation. The trainees were evaluated on the last day of the retreat and a survey was given to the trainees to express how they felt about this life changing retreat.
On Friday May 25, 2018 with sunny skies and happy faces, WAM hosted a handover ceremony for “the Project for Improvement of Transportation of Training Materials for Waan Aelõñ in Majel in Majuro Atoll.” The grant provided WAM with a Crane Truck and was funded through Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Society Projects (GGP).
The ceremony was also attended by Hon. Minister of Natural Resources and Commerce Dennis Momotaro, Hon. President of Mayors Association Ota Kisino, Reverend Jimmy Moses, Commissioner of Public School System Kanchi Hosia, Director of Waan Aelon in Majel Alson Kelen, Director of Okeanos Dustin Langidrik, staff of Ministry of Natural Resources and Commerce, trainers and students of Waan Aelon in Majel, as well as officials and staff of the Embassy of Japan.
WAM is unique in providing youth with not only basic education but also traditional skills and knowledge of wood working, carving, saw milling, traditional navigation and canoe building. Without its own vehicle for transporting logs, WAM could only use limited types of trees in its programs. Because of the GGP funding WAM procured a crane truck, which allows us to collect different types of training materials including coconut trees, which are the most popular in the RMI and also appropriate for vocational training. In addition, the project is expected to help replantation of old coconut trees, which is promoted by Ministry of Natural Resources and Commerce, for protecting industries, environment and food security in the future.
The 2018 WAM program has begun as of March 26th and is off to a great start with 20 young men and 5 young women. This 6-month program will as always gives these young people the Life Skills to compete in the job market further their education in this ever-changing world. At the same time these trainees will learn traditional canoe construction and sailing. Some of the vocational projects they will be working on are; small model canoe building, repair and maintenance of existing canoes, and building a traditional dugout canoe. Before these projects are started each trainee learns basic tool identification, maintenance and use. They are also instructed in the traditional names of the parts of a canoe. During this 6-month program they will also are receive
instruction in Literacy and Numeracy every week. Trainees will also participate in various community events such as World Health Month. WAM hosted a Walk-a-thon for Health on April 13th. This event hosted by WAM started off with health screening provided for by Wellness Center and Ministry of Health and finished off with trainees and WAM staff many steps around the WAM Campus to encourage all to be health conscious.
We will post more updates on their progress as the program continues.