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If you would like to participate in a clean-up day or sponsor a clean-up please see our activities schedule. If you would like to contribute through providing clean-up tools please contact us.

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.