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«ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2015 A Letter from the Founder Friends, This past year presented challenges unlike any Habele has encountered since our founding in ...»

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A Letter from the Founder


This past year presented challenges unlike any Habele has encountered since our founding in 2006.

The damage wrought by Super Typhoon Maysak cast a long shadow over isolated Micronesian communities. Many

of the students and schools with whom we have partnered for years lost everything.

Despite the grim circumstances, it was inspiring to see the outpouring of support and concern from Habele’s donors and volunteers. Your generosity allowed Habele to quickly dispatch school supplies, medicines, clothing and tools to people who were in truly dire straits.

In light of these unforeseeable circumstances, Habele’s board directed a large percentage of our limited resources to meeting the immediate physical needs of the communities we serve.

This did limit our ability to award scholarships in 2015, but our hope is - with your support - to regroup and refocus on providing academic opportunity to even more bright students in Micronesia.

For every student that Habele is able to award a scholarship, ten more equally underserved children seek our sup- port. Our hope is to continue to reach as many as we can.

I have often said that if even all of Habele’s efforts and resources can positively shape the future of even one ambi- tious student, that it would all be worth it. Your committed support is having a daily impact in the lives of children in one of the most remote places on earth. We see the results, and are deeply appreciative!

Thank you!

Neil J. Mellen Founder Habele Outer Island Education Fund 701 Gervais Street, Suite 150-244 Columbia SC 29201 njm@habele.org About Habele Habele is a charity serving students in the Federated States of Micronesia. We have a network of passionate donors and volunteers giving of their time and talents to change lives in one of the most remote places on the planet.

Habele is an IRS-recognized charity, and carefully complies with all the public reporting and disclosure required to earn and keep that special tax-exempt status. Former Peace Corps Volunteers founded Habele, and nearly everyone involved has a personal connection with the islands.

In one indigenous Micronesian language, the word Habele means, “to realize a dream,” or “to make it be.” It is our daily mission to inspire, equip and empower island communities to see their dreams become reality.

To learn more and contribute, visit habele.org.

Where we serve Habele operates throughout Micronesia, the thousands of tiny islands and atolls strung across Central Pacific.

This region is home to some of the most remote and under-resourced classrooms on the planet. In an average class- room of twenty Micronesian first graders, just six will go on to earn high school diplomas, two will complete associ- ates degrees, and only one student will complete a four year college degree in their lifetime.

How we serve Habele’s carefully works with educators, parents and leaders across Micronesia to ensure that all programs pursue and achieve the best possible results for communities. Our programs are always locally created, locally driven, and locally administered.

Scholarships: Habele provides K12 tuition assistance on the basis of need and merit. These scholarships provide ambitious students with access to the best-ranked private schools across Micronesia.

Language and Literacy: We partner with libraries and schools throughout Micronesia, providing them with high quality and relevant materials. From computers to dictionaries, our donations always serve local demands.

Extracurricular: Habele creates, funds and equips local programs to serve students outside the classroom. From high school based robotics teams and sports leagues to mentor-driven canoe carving and traditional fabric weaving projects, Habele’s extracurricular programs provide a place for students to create a sense of worth, belonging and accomplishment in their lives.

Typhoon Relief: In the spring of 2015, Super Typhoon Maysak left a trail of devastation across the Outer Islands of Yap and Chuuk States. Habele partnered with a variety of individual and corporate donors to coordinate ongoing relief for hard-hit communities.

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There are at least 600 islands and atolls that make up what people call “Micronesia.” Only 65 of these islands are inhabited.

In 2015, Habele served students from 15 of these inhabited islands. Don’t let the map fool you. “Neigboring” islands can be very, very distant from one another. In fact, some of the islands in Micronesia are as far apart as New York and San Diego!

There are over a dozen distinct languages spoken across these far-flung islands. Habele is proud to have published the first ever English-to-Ulithian Dictionary, as a resource for classrooms on Ulithi Atoll.

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Since 2006, Habele has awarded scholarships to primary and secondary school students in Micronesia. These tuition grants are the heart and soul of our work, and bring learning opportunities that many children could only dream of.

Tuition scholarships allow low-income children to attend high-quality independent schools of their family’s choosing.

The scholarships cover seventy-five percent of a student’s tuition, at one of eight participating schools in three of the FSM’s four states.

Habele students primarily come from rural communities and remote outer islands.

Habele scholarships are far from a handout. Families contribute a portion of tuition costs as an investment, not just in their child, but in the future of Micronesia.

Each student is required to provide Habele with copies of report cards, a thank you letter, and a photograph during the course of the school year. New applicants also submit details of their family’s financial situation, and those applying to renew their scholarships must re-submit their application forms each year.

It is our mission to give the best schooling possible to children - who may otherwise never be able to access it - in hopes that these students will grow to lead Micronesia.

Meet a Habele scholar!

Francis “Cisco” Yarofalyango Cisco is a Junior at Yap Catholic High School, and a leader in both academic and extracurricular pursuits. This year he achieved First Honors for academic excellence, as well as being awarded for perfect attendance!

Cisco earned a 94% average on his report card, and was noted by his instructors as not only working hard himself, but lending a helping hand to his classmates on collaborative assignments.

Outside of the classroom, Cisco leads both the traditional sailing team and traditional carving club for Yap Catholic High School. He also plays on the varsity basketball team, and participates in the Robotics League.

Cisco comes from the island of Lamotrek, a coral atoll located about 570 miles from Yap Proper. After school he can often be found perfecting his carving skills at the traditional canoe house in Colonia.

Without the generous support of Habele donors, Cisco would not have the opportunity to hone his numerous abilities in one of the most prestigious schools in the Federated States of Micronesia.

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Practical application of classroom learning is central to Habele’s approach. One exciting opportunity for handson implementation has been in the field of robotics. Since 2012, Habele has equipped and supported several high schools on Yap in forming their own robotics teams.

This high school robotics league is the only extracurricular robotics program in the entire Central Pacific!

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Team members design, and build their own complex robots, learning important Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills in a hands-on way. Many of the students participating in the robotics league have since graduated and pursued higher education in STEM fields as a result of their positive experiences.

After a year of applied math and science programs in school, the teams meet and compete in the annual, “Yap Robo Day.” This event showcases the students’ hard work and technical achievements in front of the entire community.

Robo Day has become an increasingly popular event on Yap, with growing numbers of community members showing up to see the exhibition.

This year, a generous investment from the Matson Foundation allowed the Robo League to improve and expand.

New equipment, and a new participating school - Yap Public High School - brought even more energy to the League.

There is always a need for equipment and support. The easiest way to participate is through a donation to Habele.

Please visit Habele.org to learn more and contribute to the Central Pacific’s only extracurricular robotics league!

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Habele is proud to partner with Waa’gey, a unique local program that mentors at-risk youth. Waa’gey uses traditional skills - canoe carving, weaving, and traditional art - to keep young people grounded in history, and focused on confronting the unique challenges of urbanization.

Waa’gey pairs master carvers, weavers and other skilled mentors with high school aged boys and girls, with the intent of building academic and personal development.

The exciting side benefit is the preservation and revival of a distinctive and rich tradition of craftsmanship and navigation.

Waa’gey sees this as a chance to build bonds between generations, and develop a positive work ethic among young islanders, particularly those who now reside in the more dense and developed state centers.

Waa’gey works with master carvers across the Outer Islands and coordinate projects among teams both on Yap Proper and back on the smaller outer islands where the practices remain more vibrant. In the process they’ve revived a centuries old process of obtaining trees on Yap Proper (where they grow much taller) and exchanging the logs for specialty items only produced in the Neighboring Islands.

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In the Spring of 2015, Super Typhoon Maysak ravaged Outer Island communities across Yap State. Winds of up to 160 mph tore away homes, schools and community buildings, leaving rubble scattered far and wide. Traditional gardens were inundated with salt water, and coconut trees on which islanders depend for food, drink and thatching materials were swept clean.

Thanks to a decade of close partnerships with Outer Island educators and community leaders, Habele was able to rapidly respond to direct requests for relief. Habele immediately assembled dozens of “Response and Recovery Kits” for delivery to the most devastated areas. These kits of medicines, tools, and basic hygienic supplies were in the hands of storm survivors months before cumbersome local and US relief agencies were on hand with large-scale aid. In addition to these kits, Habele distributed several micro-grants to local organizations serving as First Responders to remote islands after the storm.

The storm leveled many Outer Island schools, leaving hundreds of students without any kind of educational facilities.

Island leaders decided that rising seniors at the obliterated Outer Islands High School - a historic institution on Ulithi Atoll - would finish out their final year of high school on Yap proper. These students matriculated to Yap with nothing but a determination to finish strong.

Habele organized and directed a drive to provide displaced OIHS students with much-needed toiletries, footwear, and basic school supplies. Thanks to the donations and in-kind contributions from a number of individual and corporate donors, Habele was able to quickly deliver these necessary - and encouraging - necessities to uprooted

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students. Additionally, Habele provided local relief organizations with “Moving Past Maysak” t-shirts to distribute to their hard-working volunteers. These popular shirts provided a visual rallying point for community members.

Beyond the financial and material relief, American volunteers from Habele also traveled to Yap State, lending their time and talents in the recovery process. These volunteers partnered with local organizations to physically participate in relief and rebuilding, as well ensure that the contributions of US donors were carefully targeted to local needs.

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Libraries play a special role in island communities, and Habele has been focused on supporting them since the founder’s days in the Peace Corps. Through access to books, children in some of the most isolated schools in the world can explore worlds beyond their own small islands. Other community members treasure libraries as well, in an environment where books are often scarce.

Habele’s volunteers and donors are working to stock a school-based library in Pohnpei, answering the request of local educators on that Micronesian Island.

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.

In earlier times, Temwen was the governmental and power center of the island; in recent years that has shifted to other parts of the island more focused on FSM government issues. This has limited the community’s, and school’s, access to educational resources.

Sadly, students at Temwen School have never been exposed to reading for pleasure and reading levels are low across the board. In all of Temwen there has never been a library; no place for the community members to research a topic or enjoy a book on a sunny day.

Book donations are vital for this project, and other ongoing Habele literacy projects, to succeed. We are working to provide roughly half fiction, and half non-fiction books that could serve US reading levels Kindergarten through eighth grade. Reference books, and recent magazines are also welcomed, as they will serve the wider community and create a more welcoming space for people of all ages.

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