Children learn subsistence farming via CAO program

Posted on Aug 10 2020


The Carolinian Affairs Office has resumed its Tepengi Kkosch Refaluwasch/Caring for Our Carolinian Culture program last week by teaching about 20 children the ABCs of subsistence farming at the CAO grounds in Garapan.

The program, which aims to promote, preserve, and protect the Refaluwasch culture, showed participants, the youngest of whom is 4 years old, the rudiments of planting. They later tried their hand at planting bananas and tapioca in between classes.

Carolinian Affairs Office executive director John Tagabuel first taught the children fruits, parts of a plant, and key words for planting, and their local terms.

The program, made possible through a grant from the Administration for Native Americans, fosters youth development through traditional cultural activities for the children through cultural summer programs and classes for youth and adults. The grant, worth $441,815 spans three years, which begun in 2018.

Classes that have been taught included loom making, mwaar, basic usous making, lighhatutuur, fishing (identifying fish and reading tide charts), singing, weaving, and traditional dancing.

In an interview, project manager Aggie Ketebengang said that they currently have two classes, held Wednesdays and Fridays, with two different groups.

“We’re teaching kids how to do subsistence farming. Because of this [COVID-19], everyone is going through hard times so we came up with an idea where we’re [going to] teach kids how to go back to their roots [and learn] fishing, farming. Next week we’re going to be doing cooking,” Ketebengang added. “Last Wednesday, the children learned how to make coconut oil. …It’s a beautiful program. This program gives us the opportunity to teach our culture to our kids. …One of the objectives is to reach out to the children and teach them as many traditions that we have.”

Those who want to register their children for the program can go to the Carolinian Affairs Office in Garapan. Due to social distancing protocols, seats are limited, so registration is on a first come, first served basis.

CAO will be putting up a display hall to showcase all the end products from the activities held throughout the program.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at

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