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The First Lady delivered the event’s closing remarks, issuing a "Call to Action" to build a Micronesia Foster Care Network to address challenges facing children in need throughout the region. And she asked the delegates to begin working with one another to implement sound strategies to support struggling youth.
READ the release on the First lady's appearance at the Conference below:
Delegates from throughout Micronesia pledge support to establish the Micronesia Foster Care Network
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2012
(Koror, Palau) First Lady Christine M.S. Calvo inspired delegates of the Women of Micronesia Inaugural Summit to build a Micronesia Foster Care Network to address challenges facing children in need throughout the region. Her call to action received overwhelming support from all delegates who applauded her efforts and thanked her for her work, especially for Guamanians who have moved to Guam from the outer islands.
The First Lady delivered the event’s closing remarks and called on delegates to begin working with one another to implement sound strategies to support struggling youth.
“I think it’s our duty – our responsibility – to meet with young people in every community,” said First Lady Calvo. “We need to go out into high-risk neighborhoods and reach out to our most vulnerable youth. They need to know we’re listening. They need to know that their circumstances today do not dictate who they can become.”
Drawing on the efforts of the Calvo administration to reform education, the First Lady challenged delegates to start speaking with children and listening to their needs. She spoke about a recent meeting she and other first ladies from throughout the region had with migrant students from Simon Sanchez, sharing that they even offered suggestions on how to help them through the assimilation process.
“They told us about their problems, asked us questions and they even gave us good ideas on how we can tackle these challenges,” the First Lady said of the meeting with students. “I think it’s time we take their suggestions and turn them into action.”
Micronesia Foster Care Network
The First Lady shared with the summit delegates the success seen with the Rigalu Foundation and its efforts to strengthen support for Guam’s foster children and their foster families. She said that while 19 of Guam’s 213 foster children are from Palau with 11 more from Chuuk and 9 from Phonpei, “They are all our children. They are all our responsibility–our opportunity to share the spirit of hope with a child in need.”
Her call to action proposed the establishment of a Micronesia Foster Care Network. She hopes that through a regional network comprised of representatives from the Women of Micronesia Exchange Network, there can be a non-government support system to reinforce the work the governmental agencies.
“I work closely with Public Health officials and the dedicated workers of Child Protective Services. I’ve seen first hand how the lack of resources and even bureaucratic red tape can hinder people who are just trying to help,” First Lady Calvo said. “I think we have an opportunity to step in and find ways to improve the system from the outside.”
The First Lady suggested that a regional foster care network can provide services from helping foster children get home to their families in the outer islands to services as simple as setting up weekly phone calls from a foster child’s relatives in their home communities.
“These children are already losing valuable time without their parents. We’ve got to do all we can to help them through this challenging process.”
The Micronesia Regional Women’s Summit is the first event held by the Women of Micronesia Exchange Network – WOMEN – established through a resolution passed during the 17th Micronesia Chief Executive’s Summit held on Guam earlier this year.
The organization received support from the U.S. Department of Interior and has been hard at work organizing women representatives from throughout the region to come together to focus on community issues.
The event had hundreds of participants from Palau with delegates from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Yap, Phonpei, the Republic of the Marshall Islands. In attendance with the First Lady were local officials and WOMEN Board Members, Joanne Brown, Dr. Melissa Taitano and Conchita Taitano.
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