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    Tuesday, May 21, 2019-9:16:05A.M.






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Sharing, giving, and volunteering in Micronesia

FATHER Francis Hezel once noted that most Micronesians live in two worlds: in their indigenous community and in an increasingly Americanized urban center. Both worlds represent very different economies, value systems and social relationships.

But the social and symbolic significance of food remains one of the most important aspects of life in Micronesia.

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Rose Smith, Arlene Silva, Tanya Salas and Christy Sakaziro.  Contributed photo

Chuuk native Koin Nethon believes that sharing food is an expression of solidarity that validates kinship ties and defines a host of rights, duties and obligations between people.

However, an increasing reliance on cash economy and imported food has become part of an individual or small family unit’s daily life.

Today, boiled rice, bread, pancakes, ramen noodles and canned meat are too costly to share with relatives or neighbors.

But many island residents still have to rely on a subsistence economy. Fishing and agriculture remain important resources for their survival. Today, there is minimal sharing while many depend on welfare programs.

There are also several non-profit or charitable organizations that provide help to those in need.

Among these organizations are the Empty Vessel Ministry Foundation which depends on volunteers and donations.

 After Typhoon Soudelor hit Saipan in Aug. 2015, Empty Vessel founder Rose Smith said: “Over 6,000 community members received help. But today more than a thousand continue to struggle with unmet needs.”

Empty Vessel volunteers Arlene Silva and Tanya Salas said sharing and giving are still important values in island communities.