Soldiers, students team up to donate books to FSM

Posted on May 12 2021


U.S. Army soldiers with Pacific ties volunteer during their off-hours to gather books in Hawaii to be sent to the Federated States of Micronesia. From left, Albert Mangloña, Katoa Sailusi, Jordon Galvez and Valentino Sigrah. (Contributed Photo)

EWA BEACH, Hawaii—A group of off-duty U.S. Army soldiers in Hawaii have teamed up with a public school on Oahu, students in the school’s Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps unit, and Habele, a nonprofit founded by former U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, to send books to a school-based library in Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Staff at James Campbell High School and a group of Army Reservists enlisted the support of students at the high school’s Navy JROTC detachment and Habele to collect used books that were sent to Kosrae school libraries.

Schools across FSM need books for their school-based libraries, which serve both students and members of the community at large.

“We were thrilled to collaborate with Campbell High School and Habele to get used library books…,” said John Yoshimori of Aiea.“In my opinion we are providing reading opportunities to students in the American-affiliated Pacific and hopefully showing the…public that soldiers are human beings capable of planning and executing humanitarian activities also as well as combat operations!”

Over the last six months more than 70 boxes of books, totaling over 2,000 lbs, have been gathered by these and other Habele volunteers for public schools across Micronesia. The nonprofit receives requests from Micronesian schools in Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae, then matches them with offers from American schools and individuals looking to donate.

“Child development is the foundation for community and economic development,” said Neil Mellen of Habele. “All facets of human capital are formed by abilities developed early in life and we always have more book requests from our partner schools than we can meet.”

Once part of a U.S.-administered Trust Territory, today Federated States of Micronesia’s far-reaching alliance with the U.S. is cemented through a Compact of Free Association, or COFA, that defines defense and development ties between the nations.

The eastern most state of FSM, Kosrae, is home to fewer than 7,000 islanders, living on 40 square miles of land, with an average household income of just $15,000. The isolated island is more than 300 miles from neighboring Pohnpei, home to the national capital. From offshore, the distinctive shape of Kosrae, densely covered with vegetation atop steep mountains, resembles the female form, earning the nickname “the sleeping lady.” (PR)

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