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Sinei Nonomum me Wisom

Faniten Kinamwen non Family Ekkesiwin

(People for Change:  Character and Responsibilities)

CWC Annual Conference

Session #2

October 12th, 2017


Session #2 kicked off in the Truk Stop conference facility at 10:00am with songs of praise followed by an opening prayer from Reverend Steioshy Manuel.  Master of Ceremonies, Ms. Juliana M. Sos, then introduced Mr. Sigmond Silluk, representing the municipality of Weno, who officially opened the two-day conference.

CWC president, Kiki Stinnett, then welcomed conference attendees and expressed sincere appreciation to the Office of Minority Health Resource Center (OMHRC), whose sponsorship made this event possible.

Keynote speaker, Ms. Dionisialyn “Dion” Bernard, Department of Justice, assistant secretary for the Human Trafficking Division presented “Strengthening Capacity, Building Roles within the FSM Government on Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, and Opportunities in Law Enforcement for Women”.

In 2012 FSM (Federated States of Micronesia) enacted a Human Trafficking law in response to the “blue house” brothel case in Guam.  Assistant secretary Dion congratulated CWC for successfully advocating to increase the age of consent from 13 to 18.  This consent law supported two recent cases, one of which she won.

However, the sad reality remains.  Human trafficking and sexual assault still occur within FSM.  In 2016 human trafficking cases filed in Chuuk involved parents who facilitated the sexual activity of their minor-aged daughters for profit.  Assistant secretary Dion challenged all conference participants to make changes within their own families, villages, and churches by “breaking the silence” on this modern vestige of slavery.  In silence, you are complicit with the perpetrator of any incident of human trafficking or sexual assault.

Conference participants were inspired by Assistant Secretary Dion’s presentation and the approach that she advocates, called “community policing”.   Community policing engages and challenges people to communicate, share information, and report inappropriate activities to the authorities.  This approach further strengthens relationships among members of the community.

Assistant Secretary Dion encouraged women and youth to engage in this community policing effort as well.  She touched on barriers facing women in the workforce and emphasize the importance of stronger representation of women in decision-making processes within the family and community.   She went on to announce open positions within her office and asked all interested individuals to apply.

Assistant secretary Dion encouraged CWC to continue raising awareness of human rights and the impact of these rights within the context of our current cultural climate.  Her presentation defined the key elements of human trafficking as:  act, means, and purpose.

The primary challenges and barriers to effectively combatting human trafficking are: insufficient government support for child protection services, insufficient funding, and insufficient counselling resources for victims.
During the interactive portion of assistant secretary Dion’s presentation, several questions focused on identifying specific practices and beliefs within Chuukese culture that enable domestic violence and human trafficking to occur.  Conference participants unanimously agreed that abuse or domestic violence against women and children are utterly inconsistent with our cultural traditions and values. Yet some people continue to use “culture” to excuse or rationalize these repugnant and crimes. 

Age of consent law:  benefits

  • Supports prosecution of human trafficking cases
  • Encourages government to focus on providing the needed Services to support the Protection of the Child and Domestic Violence cases

Age of consent law:  next steps

  • Strengthen the collaboration of both national and state government agencies to improve support services to CSO’s and NGO’s
  • Provide funding for education outreach
  • Seek support from the Department of Justice, A.G.’s Office and Department of Public Safety to assist in enforcement (age of consent / human trafficking)
  • Strengthen partnership among government agencies and stakeholders. Seek support from Chuuk Leadership to assist with investment in policies and women’s and family programs

 Assistant secretary Dion’s presentation was followed by the panel discussion, “Navigating Personal Well-Being & Sexuality: Sexuality & Gender & Reproductive Health”.  Eleanor S. Sos, chief of Chuuk Public Health, facilitated this discussion.  Chief Eleanor expressed deep appreciation to OMHRC (Office of Minority Health Resource Center) and the University of Guam for establishing this curriculum in the Chuukese and Chomorro communities in partnership with CWC and another NGO from Marianas.

This panel discussion was limited to a high-level overview and introduction as each of the ten lessons requires ninety minutes to complete.  CWC conference attendees will be the ones to invite Chief Eleanor and her staff into their local communities to teach the full curriculum.

After the panel discussion Sincera Fritz presented on HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and common women’s health concerns.  The presentation prompted participants to ask several questions regarding sexual health.  The information presented, and subsequent discussion provided the participants with a better understanding of their own sexual health, and the knowledge gained will help them to knowledgeably discuss these topics within their families.

While the women’s plenary was going on in the conference room, the men had their own session in the TV Room.  Reverend Manuel and Mr. Mori-M Mori facilitated the men’s session and addressed some of the curriculum activities.

The afternoon session, facilitated by Jacinta Lippwe and supported by Ms. Chelsea Yleizah and Rev. Manuel, focused on drugs and alcohol as factors contributing to risky behavior. Anger management and suicide prevention were also addressed. The presenters went on to discuss the range of available services catering to mental illness and special needs patients.  Conference participants, some of whom have experienced these issues with family members, utilized the opportunity to interact with the presenters.  Ms. Jacinta stressed that there are new approaches for the service delivery to mental patients and the government encourages family involvement.  

CWC Board member, Ms. Faustina Francis gave the closing remarks by thanking everyone and most especially the presenters and assistant secretary Bernard for her remarks.

Dr. Rita Mori was the keynote speaker for day two of the conference.  The central theme of her presentation was the importance “People for Change: character and responsibilities” (sinei nonomum me wisom) “for peace in the family” (faniten kinamwen non family).

It is important for each of us to know, who we are, understanding our character and responsibilities.  Harmony within the family is the responsibility of both the father and mother.  Only when there is harmony within the family can the community, island, state and nation be at peace.

It is important for the mother to stay healthy because if she is sick, she will not be able to work and care for the children.  The children will not be able to go to school because the husband is too worried trying to get his wife well.  The extended family gets involved trying to help the sick mother off island but is unable to pay the expenses.  The government hospital helped by providing the means to refer the sick mother off island but now the hospital does not have money to purchase medicine for the other patients.

A family that knows and understands the importance of their responsibilities will do whatever is required to care for their own family to stay healthy and enjoy quality of their life.  

Dr. Rita stressed the importance for women to be healthy prior to and during pregnancy. The concept of “Womb to Tomb” means preparing for pregnancy by ensuring that every mother is in the best health possible, and then to maintain good health throughout pregnancy by getting antenatal care to ensure a healthy delivery.  Planning and preparing for pregnancy will minimize complications such as premature delivery, low birth-weight and stillbirths.  Women have the right to choose when and how many children to have.  By doing so, they will have increased their chances to have uncomplicated pregnancies and healthier children.

The FSM Statistics Office show that teenage pregnancy continues to increase.  Chuukese women are the first caretakers of life and of our families.   Are you healthy?  Is your family healthy and happy?  “People for Change”.  “Be a woman for change”.  Remember the remarks made by our Senator Gardenia Aisek, “Woman Can Do”.  Be an instrument for Change…

Chief Eleanor Setik gave the recap and highlighted some of the points from the previous day. Ms. Nite Christoph then closed the morning session with an emotional song, describing the unconditional love a mother has for her child.  That beautiful song touched the hearts of many, unleashing tears throughout the room.

The afternoon session started with a session titled “Impact of the Age of Consent Law”, by Kiki Stinnett.  She shared the history of this law and highlighted some of the hard work leading to passage on September 23, 2014.  CSL 12-14-18 increased the age of consent from 13 years old to 18 years.  This change focused on the responsibility of both parents to their child. The age of consent law now defines a minor as anyone under the age of 18 years.

Kiki also, explained the legal obligation of the parents to ensure the safety of their minor children. It is against the law for a minor to purchase or consume alcohol, cigarettes or betelnut.  Minors can not drop out of school.  Minors are not allowed to fly unaccompanied on airplanes. Minors accused of crimes can not be tried as adults.

Participants (60% adults, 40% minors) were surveyed on the first day of the conference to assess public awareness and knowledge of the age of consent law:

  • Aware of the law?            52% responded YES / 25% responded NO
  • Understand the law?         35% responded YES / 57% responded NO / 8% responded DON'T KNOW
  • Is the law effective?          50% responded YES / 50% responded NO

As a result of increasing the age of consent to 18, more parents are now hesitant to let their underage girls marry.  However, survey results indicate that further outreach is needed to increase compliance with this legislation.

Reverend Manuel addressed participants, thanking CWC leadership for bringing this conference to fruition.  He went on to reaffirm the family as the foundation upon which society is developed.  “Ekichu tipechu angechu” (working together) is a tradition of Micronesian culture promoting vitality, health, harmony, and success at the family, community, state, and national levels.

CWC Board member, Ms. Susan Danis, delivered closing remarks thanking participants and encouraging everyone to reflect upon the discussions of the past two days.  She ended by acknowledging and thanking the Office of Minority Health Resource Center for their continued support and funding the CWC annual conference.  The conference was closed with a prayer.

Program Overview

Young women in Chuuk have few opportunities to learn in a safe environment about the myriad issues that are unique to the female sex.  At home and at school, adults are often silent about sexual health, mental health and gender violence.  The program provides young women with the opportunity to discuss issues unique to the female sex, as well as provide them with the tools and resources to make informed decisions about their futures.  The YWEP program outcome is for young women to be able to make better informed choices about their lives.  There are three main components of the YWEP which are Educational Development, Health and Wellness, and Practical Skill’s Building.

 Program Details

Michelle Budwitz, Senior Public Health Advisor served as YWEP Program Director.  In this capacity, she wrote the course curriculum for the program, administered the grant, and managed the program, in addition to: hiring staff and providing instruction and training to staff and program participants.


Lucy Mailo served as the program’s sewing instructor and Etista Lover served as the program’s handicraft instructor.  Both instructors are local women who have their own businesses to make and sell clothing and jewelry.


Three instructors (Jayrene Engichy, Roseleen Joseph, and Beverly Attan) were hired to assist in teaching program content, administer the program and mentor students.  All instructors are recent graduates from Caroline College Pastoral Institute and held associate degrees in liberal arts.

 Program Specifics

Two programs were offered:  June 13-17 and June 20-24, 2016 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Twenty-three young women ages 13-20, in grades 8-12 from Weno, Tonawas, Fefen and Parem participated in the week-long programs (30 hours).  The first program was held June 13-17, 2016 and 11 young women participated.  Ages ranged from 14 to 20 years old, and grades 9 to 12, and one recent high school graduate.  Four participants were from Tonawas Island.  The second program was held June 20-24, 2016 and 12 individuals enrolled.  Ages ranged from 13 to 20 years old, and grades 8 to 12.  Three participants came from Sapuk Village from the Northern most end of the island, two from Parem Island and two from Fefen Island.

Five classes were offered on the following topics:  Class 1:  Overview, Women’s Empowerment, Gender/Sex & Goal Setting; Class 2:  Effective Communication, Relationships, Gender Violence & Psychological Wellness; Class 3:  Female and Male Anatomy & Reproductive Health, and Sexually Transmitted & Common Female Infections; Class 4:  Healthy Eating, and Local Crafts & Skirt Making; and Class 5:  Local Crafts & Skirt Making, and Review/Graduation/Party.

Each class was a combination of lecture, discussion, videos, educational and practical exercises, demonstration and game playing.   To increase knowledge retention and demonstrate understanding evaluations and discussion questions were given.  Examples of discussion questions include, “How do you feel about Chuukese gender roles? What would you change and what would you keep the same?”  The participants were required to respond to the prompt in their notebooks.  The questions were reviewed by the instructors to identify gaps in knowledge, or issues that may need to be addressed in subsequent classes.  For students who were struggling with English comprehension and writing, instructors provided translation into Chuukese. 


Throughout the program the participants were tested on their knowledge through the use of evaluation instruments.  End of class evaluations were conducted for Classes 1 and 4.  During Classes 2 and 3, baseline surveys were administered to test participant’s pre-existing understanding of gender violence, depression, female and male anatomy, reproductive health and sexually transmitted infections. After class, follow-up surveys were conducted to assess knowledge gained.  The final evaluation administered in Class 5 assessed participants’ overall understanding of course concepts.  All evaluations and follow-up-surveys examined program satisfaction and opportunities for improvements.

 Key Results

The daily evaluation assessed participant satisfaction with the course content.  Several individuals indicated that they enjoyed skirt making the most.  One young woman wrote, “I am really happy to learn how to make my own skirt because it is something that I had always wanted to learn how to do, and now I can do it!”  Some participants indicated that they least liked the topic of Sex, Sexuality and Gender because they felt that they were too young to learn about this information and it made them uncomfortable.  One individual stated, “It is not important to me because I am too young.”  Those who did not like the Sex, Sexuality and Gender module indicated that the topic made them feel sad because gender roles are not something they feel they have control over.  Sixty-seven percent of the participants in Program 2 indicated that they like the Eating Locally module the most.  Several explained that they believe it is important to support the local community through local food purchases, and it is better for their health and the environment.  A participant explained, “I now know what foods to eat and what foods to limit, and this will help make me healthy.”

Participants were asked how they would spread the knowledge they had gained from the program, and empower women in their respective communities.  Some responses include: “I will empower other girls by teaching them how to use condoms so they won’t get sick with an infection or pregnant.”   Another participant wrote: “I want to tell other girls about gender violence, and help them understand what gender violence means and how to stop it.”

All participants successfully completed the practical skill’s building component for the program.  Participants purchased local foods at the market including reef fish, long beans, papaya, watermelon, cooking bananas and coconut oil.  They honed their culinary skills in the CWC kitchen.  The lunch consisted of fried fish, boiled bananas and stir-fried vegetables.


Twelve young women chose to learn how to sew, and each were able to make “pilak” styled skirts.  Eleven participants selected jewelry making for their practical skill building and produced eleven bracelets, two anklets, six head-bands and seven necklaces.


The program concluded with a small graduation ceremony and party for the participants. Twenty three young women received certificates of completion, eleven in Program 1 and twelve in Program 2. The young women played games such as Empowerment Trivia, Ping Pong Mania and musical chairs, and were provided with cake and ice cream as a final treat. 


The program is extremely worthwhile and the young women who participated were very eager to learn, and participants came earlier and earlier each day.  Some wanted to discuss the topics covered from the day before, some chose to watch videos on gender violence, some came to read the course materials and write notes in their books, but many came just to sit with others in a safe, clean and welcoming environment.  For many, it was their first exposure to CWC and they enjoyed being in a place built by women and for women.  The purpose of the program is to provide young women with the knowledge and tools to make better decisions about their own lives, and to help others navigate through life’s often rough waters.  When young women have knowledge and are able to make informed and autonomous decisions -- then they are truly empowered.


Ren omw kopwe sinei ach office Cwc Fiin Chuuk a awora pekin aninis ren osukosukun non famini.

Ka tongeni kekeri 330-8397 ika chuto non ach we office nepukos nukun sekurun Bank of Guam.

A tongeni anisuk non ekkei ran mi afat fan.

For your information our Cwc Fiin Chuuk office now has services to help with domestic violence issues in the family.

You can call 330-8397 or you can come to our office in Nepukos, behind Bank of Guam.

The times we are available to assist are below:

Detective Ginger Katzuda
Wed & Fri @ 9:00 am-3:00 pm


Monday, June 13, was a very busy day at the CWC Center.   First was the signing of the MOU between Chuuk Public Safety and Chuuk Women’s Council in support of our Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP).  This MOU will strengthen partnerships and collaboration efforts in order to address our responsibilities to maintain peace within the family and community.   An FVU officer at the CWC Center will give the women of the community opportunities to learn more about the program


The special signing ceremony was witnessed by the Public Safety Family Unit officers and participants of a reading workshop and facilitated by trainer Ms. Aileen Otoko from the Department of Education (DOE). The training was conducted in support of the eight graduating seniors who will be teaching the CWC Summer Math and Reading Program, and the mothers of the participating summer program students. 

On the 2nd floor of the Youth and Family Learning Resource Center was the kick-off of the Young Women Empowerment Program, made possible by a grant from Let Girls Learn Fund.  Experienced trained staff facilitated this program under the supervision of CWC Peace Corps Response Volunteer: Ms. Michelle Budwitz.

Ms. Evelyn Adloph, UN Coordination Specialist and UN Joint Presence Initiative FSM, made her first official visit to our center.  It was a great opportunity for us to discuss our programs and how her office can support our program activities, including the CEDAW awareness efforts.  She was impressed with what she saw and learned while observing our many activities.                                                                          

Throughout the week there were visitors who came to the center and learned about all the exciting summer activities taking place at CWC.  Among these visitors were the JICA Mission Team, lead by Mr. Ishizuka Junji, Special Advisor, Environment Management.  With him we shared our Beautification & Clean Up Chuuk programs.

Ms. Chikako Miwa from the Embassy of Japan in the FSM visited CWC to see the facility’s operations.  She was very pleased to learn about CWC’s plethora of programs and the number of community members utilizing the resources the center has to offer.

Monday, June 20th, was the official opening for the Summer Math and Reading Program. Forty excited students, accompanied by their mothers, came to the 2nd floor of the center to begin classes.  Monday through Wednesday will focus on Math & Reading, Thursday will be Kodomo cooking class for 12 of the selected students, and Friday isreserved for fun activities: music, dancing, arts, crafts, and sports.


The first day was an important orientation, in which everyone was introduced and program expectations were explained.   Due to increased demand, we have opened up another enrollment for an afternoon session to start June 27th.  Our summer program will run for six weeks.

With all these activities taking place in the library on the 2nd floor it is clear that we need to air condition this room.  We were fortunate to have received a two hundred dollar ($200.00) donation from a visiting tourist for this purpose.  However, this is insufficient for the purchase of the air conditioning we need for the library.  We are still seeking donations to purchase the needed air condition. 

Thank you and “Kinisou Chapur” to everyone and most especially the parents that have allowed their children to participate in our summer activities.  A special sincere “Kinisou Chapur” to our partners who made our summer activities possible, DOE & Chief. Aileen Otoko and the “Let Girls Learn Fund” and our Honorable Congressman Victor Gouland for funding the summer teachers, the Young Women Empowerment Program and the Kodomo Cooking Class. 

Chuuk Women’s Council hosted a celebration for International Women’s Day and FSM Cultural Day on March 31st at the Truk Stop Hotel Patio.  The event theme: “ Recognizing the Achievements of Women Who Inspire Women and Communities”.


About one hundred-fifty women from the five regions of Chuuk, including our sisters from the KAPIT organization, and our sisters from the JICA Program, government officials, religious leaders, including CWC partners from CCS and the PPVDP.  The presence of Her Excellency Ambassador Doria Rosen and Ms. Abigail Kim made the event very special.


MC Ms. Sirene F. Killion opened the conference with the introduction.  Ms. Susan Danis gave the opening prayer.  Kiki Stinnett then gave the welcoming remarks, overview of the conference and recognized distinguished guests in attendance.  Kiki gave special recognition to Her Excellency US Ambassador to the FSM, Doria Rosen for being an outstanding advocate and supporter of CWC.  Kiki highlighted the importance of the special day by acknowledging that every woman is very special with unique talents and to use their talents to glorify God and to make a difference.  She asked everyone to “congratulate the person next to you for all the wonderful accomplishments and achievements each of you have done and continue to do for your family, community, church, State and Nation.”

This celebration was an opportunity to recognize the five most distinguished achievements of Chuukese Women for 2015 to 2016.  Each woman received a certificate in acknowledgement of their achievements and contributions to the community.


1) Mrs. Alma Danis was born and raised in Chuuk, and has lived here most of her life.  She is the mother to 11 children, 42 grandchildren and 45 great grand children.  Moreover, she is considered the Mother of Chuuk as her late husband was the fist District Administrator of Chuuk.  She founded the Truk Women’s Club and organized education programs for Chuukese children.  In 1997 Mrs. Danis relocated to Oregon but did not leave her Chuukese roots behind, while in Oregon she served her community as she welcomed and assisted Chuukese people as they made transition to the mainland.  In 2016 Mrs. Danis returned to Chuuk and we are happy to have her back.

2) Ms. Ansina Kony received her nursing certificate from Walla Walla Community College in Washington, a bachelor’s degree in community health education from Eastern Washington University and a master’s degree in special education from University of Guam.  She has dedicated her professional life to improving the health and well-being of our community.  She has worked in the field of health and nutrition for the College of Micronesia, before moving on to the position of special education coordinator for Chuuk State Department of Education.  She has spent her personal time volunteering for civic and community organization including the Board of Education, Chuuk Women’s Council, Special Education Advisory Council and the Interagency Council.

3) Dr. Asinech Hellan Pangelian was born in Chuuk.  She attended local school and was the first graduate of Saramen Chuuk Academy High School. She made the move to the US when she finished high school in Chuuk and remained there ever since.  She received her associate’s degree in health and wellness from the College of Micronesia, a bachelor’s degree from Grand Canyon University in Arizona, and went on to receive her doctor of optometry degree from Nova Southeastern University in Arizona.  She may have left Chuuk but a good part of her remains in the islands.  She founded Eye Care Micronesia (ECM).  In 2015, Dr. Pangelinan and a team of eye doctors visited Chuuk and Pohnpei.  ECM worked with local health care providers including nurses, doctors, and COM health students and teachers from both Chuuk and Pohnpei in providing eye vision screenings and exams for school age children.  They were able to see about close to 800 kids.

4) Dr. Margarita Bernard Cholymay was born on Losap Island, Chuuk.  Dr. Margarita has had several years of school and training in education.  She received her associate’s degree in general education from Suomi College, Michigan, a bachelor’s degree in bilingual education from University of Hawaii, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Guam and her doctoral degree in teach education curriculum studies from the University of Hawaii.  Dr. Cholymay has committed her professional life to improving the educational system and training the next generation of educators. For almost 10 years, she was a primary school teacher at Iras Elementary from there she worked with the national government, Chuuk department of education and College of Micronesia developing teacher training and educational curriculum.  She is an adjunct professor at Chaminade University in Hawaii.  She had dedicated much of her personal time in support of improving the lives of her Chuukese community, and throughout the years she has been the Chair and member of the Chuuk State Board of Education member of the Child Abuse and Health Services Committee, as well as several other committees in Chuuk.

5) Christine Grace Robert was born and raised on Weno.  She graduated from St. Cecilia School and Xavier High School.  She is currently enrolled as a nursing student at the College of Micronesia.  Ms. Robert is the Micronesia Challenge Young Champion Intern at Chuuk Women’s Council.  In this capacity she teaches children in grades 3-5 about environment and climate change.  She is an active member of the student body association and Peniesene Youth Catholic Association, which is also member of the CWC.

Weno Mayor Pintas Kenneth welcomed the participants and also acknowledged the presence of Her Excellency US Ambassador Rosen.  He encouraged the Chuukese women historically have significant and important roles in the family and their community.  Representing the Governors’ Office was Mr. Tracy Meter who retreated what Mayor Kenneth said.


Her Excellency Ambassador, Doria Rosen was honored for her work and support of the FSM and Chuuk State.  She gave inspiring remarks touching on the importance of education, which is the key to success. She encouraged the participants that it takes a village to educate a child and for everyone to be active participants in their community.  Education opens the doors to opportunities and allows people to become anything they strive to be. You are a role model to the younger generation and inspire other people to make a difference.

                                                                                  Our keynote speaker for this special occasion was Ms. Margarita Cholymay, PhD and one of our most distinguished Achiever. She impressed upon the women the importance for culturally appropriate and the traditional respectful ways for our elders and leaders.  Her presentation showed a sailing canoe on a journey, which illustrates the importance of teamwork and helping one another to ensure a safe and successful journey. International Women’s Day celebrates and recognizes the significant achievements and the contributions of Chuukese Women to improve the lives of their families and communities.  She went on to emphasize and encourage the women to practice their traditional roles, and to follow Christian values.  She reiterated a quote by Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

The First Lady of Chuuk State, Bersita Elimo gave the closing remarks for the day.  She thanked everyone for their roles in supporting the community.  She emphasized that education is the key to success, and it is our obligation to ensure that our children go to school.  She encourages parents to engage in their children’s schools and to support and guide their children in their studies.  She thanked all of the women, who presented at the celebration and praised them for their achievements and support of education in Chuuk.

The ceremony was followed by lunch of locally prepared cuisine and entertainment by Chuukese dance and singing groups, as well as the JICA and KAPIT women. 


All participants enjoyed the celebration and we thank everyone for their time and our sincere kinisou chapur to Truk Stop Hotel for the free venue and their support.