News Release

Elementary and middle Schools in the Micronesia Asia North Area receive backpacks

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints humanitarian department donates backpacks to the isles of the sea

Palau-Peleliu-backpacks-2023-9Download Photo

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Humanitarian Services continues to help students in the isles of Micronesia through their backpack donation project.  The project began in 2022 where 700 backpacks were delivered to a Koror Elementary School.  John and Angie Ngiraked, members of the Church in Palau, wondered why more needy schools didn’t receive them.  After a request was submitted to the Church Humanitarian Service Center in Guam, approval was given, and arrangements were made to acquire more backpacks.  On April 12, 2023, a delivery of 68 backpacks were delivered to Peleliu, a small island of Palau in the Pacific Ocean.  The Peleliu Elementary/Middle School was built in 1945.  The school enrolls K-8th graders. Ngereblunt Arurang is the school principal and was excited to receive the backpack donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Humanitarian Services.  Each of the backpacks were filled with needed school supplies and a personal note written by Church members: youth and missionaries both young and old.

The backpacks were laid out on several tables in the school cafeteria.  As the children filed into the room, their eyes lit up to see the backpacks. With their hands over their hearts and turning toward their state flag, they sang their national anthem for the missionaries: Elder and Sister Jenkins (humanitarian missionaries), Sister Burtenshaw (communication missionary), and Kenji Sugahara (manager of area humanitarian and education specialists), and John & Angie Ngiraked (Self-Reliance Facilitators and members of the Church in Palau who were instrumental in the backpack project). 

Following the song, they were called up to the tables by classes with the Kindergartner’s going first.  Each child was able to choose one of the colored backpacks.  They returned to their seats in anticipation of seeing what was inside.  The children could be heard giggling as they eagerly opened their packs.  Several of the children said that their favorite part was the personal note they found inside.  This act might have seemed like it was a small thing at the time, but it made a big difference to these children.  One of the children smiling said: “I liked everything, but my favorite part was the note!”  Several of the children hugged their backpacks like it was a priceless treasure.  

Around 160 backpacks were also delivered to Meyuns Elementary School on Palau, which hosts K-8th graders. The younger missionaries helped to unload them into the designated room.  The children would be given their backpacks the following week in an assembly.  A few of the backpacks were held up for them to see in an outdoor impromptu assembly.  The school principal, Sarah Sugiyama, said that these backpacks were really appreciated and needed.  “A lot of the students at Meyuns come from the outlying islands.  Many of the students leave their families behind to receive an education.  They come to Palau and stay with relatives or friends.  It’s hard for a lot of children to be separated from their parents.  The backpacks help them to feel important and taken care of while they’re here.  The parents are grateful that their children were receiving the backpacks.  This is the second donation of backpacks for this school, and it is very much appreciated.  Public Education is often limited in what they can supply.  Outside donations help to give the students what they need.” Principal Sugiyama’s enthusiasm for education has been extended to the teachers and students.  She said: “Miraculous things are happening with the students as we’re witnessing their rising test scores! I feel like when the children know that you believe in them, they begin to believe in themselves.” As the students were gathered for a photo and with prompting from their principal, they shouted out “thank you” in unison.  The backpacks were received and given with joy.

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