(Hagåtña Harbor, Guam) This week, three hand-carved sailing canoes landed on Guam, completing a five-day voyage across the open ocean from Yap State. This arduous five day trek highlights the ongoing success of Waa’gey, a Yap-based mentorship program that trains island youth in traditional canoe carving and navigation. The voyage between Yap State and Guam served to bridge both time and cultures.
“Waa’gey students are trained to see the value in the traditions of our ancestors,” said Larry Raigetal of Lamotrek Atoll, the group’s Program Director. “They learned to build a large sailing canoe with their own two hands, and put traditional navigation into practice on a real voyage. The old ways still work.”
The canoes used were “Carolina Proas,” complex all wood outriggers designed, perfected, and made famous by Micronesians over centuries. Larry oversaw the project, captaining one of the sleek vessels that early Spanish missionaries called, “flying proas.” Designing, building and navigating traditional canoes requires tremendous expertise.
For a decade, we've served ambitious students from the most remote Micronesian Islands.
This past year presented new challenges to Habele. Super Typhoon Maysak uprooted many of the communities and schools we support. A new category of educationally-displaced students emerged.
Outer Island schools remain in disarray. Most families lack the resources for alternatives. Habele continues to receive scholarship applications from these displaced students, as well as families across Micronesia seeking the best classroom for their child. As in years past, demand greatly exceeds our limited resources.
For under $600, Habele can place ambitious students in top schools in the state capitals for an entire school year. Our goal is to award twenty, K12 student scholarships in 2016. With your help we can make it happen.
In addition to funding scholarships, money raised now sustains the only high school robotics league in the Central Pacific, a vibrant traditional skills mentorship program, and direct-to-schools library donations.
This yearly plea is the only time Habele raises money. As an all-volunteer nonprofit, we channel contributions to our locally-defined programs, not aggressive fundraising efforts. By contributing, and urging friends and family to get involved, you empower ambitious Micronesian students to define and pursue their own futures.
Please make a donation to Habele today. We are an IRS-recognized nonprofit, so you may be eligible for a tax deduction.
Thank you for your continued support!
or send check or money order to Habele, 701 Gervais St, STE 150-244, Columbia, SC 29201.
In July of 2015, Habele sounded the call. An eager Peace Corps Volunteer, working with local educators and families, sought to restore a school based library in Pohnpei, Micronesia.
Temwen School is a small and rural Elementary school in the Madolenihmw municipality of Pohnpei. Temwen School has a small staff of seven teachers and one Peace Corps Volunteer; the Principal Elcid Joseph is a teaching principal.
The library had to be built from scratch. Staff members of Temwen Elementary School worked tirelessly to salvage books from all different areas of the school grounds. Then they renovated an older structure of the campus.
Larry Raigetal - www.waagey.org from Douglas on Vimeo.
Larry Raigetal is preparing for a voyage that few living people have accomplished. Using navigation techniques passed down by generations of traditional navigators, Larry will lead a fleet of four, hand-carved Micronesian canoes across 500 miles of open ocean. On May 10, the canoes will embark from the tiny island of Yap, with the intent of landfall on Guam in time for the Pacific Festival, which begins on May 22nd.
Larry serves as Project Director for Waa’gey, a cultural mentorship program teaching traditional skills to young people on Micronesia’s remote islands. Instruction in canoe carving and traditional navigation are a central component of Waa’gey’s work. Some of the young people who have spent years honing these practices will have the unique opportunity to put them to the test on this historic voyage. Over the years, Habele has been proud to partner with Waa’gey’s efforts to train local students. In fact, the custom adze blades used in carving voyaging canoes and traditional paddles were provided by Habele!
The voyage from Yap to Guam in a carved canoe is - fortunately - being documented from start to finish. You can go here and watch footage of Larry and the Waa’gey team carving canoes, fashioning paddles, and even discussing the impact of climate change on traditional navigation. You may not have a seat in a canoe, but these videos provide a rare look into techniques and skills that have been passed down for generations on islands at the end of the world.
Children's books and art supplies from Habele have reached the Atoll of Eauripik, one of the most remote and picturesque islands of Micronesia.
The shipment of supplies reached the coral atoll when a Yap State owned vessel visited Eauripik on its semi annual field trip voyage. The final stages of delivery were coordinated by Juan Hagilmwaal, Director of Outer Islands Monitor & Support at the Yap State Department of Education.
"A Peace Corps volunteer couldn't hope for a better duty assignment than Tamilang Elementary School," exclaims Laurel Taylor.
That K-8 school serves the the historic municipality of Tomil, on the storied and remote Island of Yap in Micronesia. Motivated and organized, the local community does everything possible to let the talents of their creative and intelligent students shine.
To encourage them in their imaginings and English language acquisition, Taylor began to pursue the community's longstanding interest in improving Tailing's library. She made it her top goal at the beginning of this academic year. Typhoon Sudal had ripped the roof off the building and destroyed half the school's books, leaving outdated encyclopedias and reference books and molding picture books.
Great news reaches Habele from Francis Yarofalyango, a junior at Yap Catholic High School (YCHS). Francis has earned honors for perfect attendance and a high average across all six of his first quarter courses!
Francis is a native of Lamotrek an isolated, low lying coral atoll in Micronesia. Through his Habele Scholarship, he is able to attend a prestigious independent school on Yap Proper, the more populous State Capital.
Like many Habele scholars, Francis also participates in Habele sponsored enrichment and extracurricular programs, such as sports leagues and robotics teams. He even had a hand in the crafting of the US-FSM Friendship Canoe, which just arrived in South Carolina.
Francis -or "Cisco" to his teachers and close friends- is emblematic of the ambitious, driven students Habele seeks to support.
"Cisco had a tremendous quarter," explained Mr. Wiencek, the Yap Catholic Algebra II and Trigonometry Instructor. "He worked very hard for his grade and was a great help to his classmates during collaborative assignments." Social Studies teacher Mr. Mailen adds "Francis' passion to learn about history is obvious and it has driven him to excel."