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Isle of Ha’apai got refurbished schools, 4,000 medical treatments

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 28, 2009) - The Pacific Partnership Mission left Ha΄apai on Saturday, July 25 following the successful completion of a humanitarian and civic mission that refurbished primary schools, fixed community facilities and treated over 4,000 patients.

After 13 days of working alongside Tongans, Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and Singaporeans, the US Navy led mission concluded in Ha΄apai with a farewell dinner hosted by the Prime Minister Honorable Dr. Feleti Sevele in Pangai on Friday July 24 followed by a closing ceremony on Saturday, July 25.

The United States Naval Ship Richard E. Byrd arrived in Ha΄apai on July 14 bringing a team of 260 doctors, veterinarians and dentists. But upon completion the Pacific Partnership had expanded to involve more than 400 men, including members of the local community who helped out in engineering projects.

In Ha΄apai the mission focused on the two priority areas of education and health services based on the main islands of Foa and Lifuka with a special medical outreach program to the remote islands of Nomuka, Ha΄afeva and ΄Uiha.

Farewell for the Pacific Partnership Mission

Dr. Viliami Tangi attends the opening of a renovated primary school in Pangai

"This is a very successful conclusion of a very excellent working relationship between all of you and has strengthened the relationship between all of your countries and Tonga," said Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health Dr. Viliami Tangi during the closing ceremony on Saturday at Pangai Hihifo High School.

The Commander of the Pacific Partnership Mission Commodore Andrew Cully, said in the closing ceremony, Pacific Partnership demonstrated a true partnership between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Tonga and the United States as well as with their NGO partners Project Hope, UCSD Pre-Dental Society, World Vets and Interplast.

The Pacific Partnership Mission involved Tongans, Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and Singaporeans, and the US Navy.

"The public support of our team has been tremendous, with villages coming out to work side by side with our team. The support from the Tonga Defence Service prior to and during our stay put us well ahead of schedule on all of our engineering projects. At the end of each day, they stayed at the sites and worked late into the night.

"When we first arrived in Ha΄apai our aim was to grow in friendship and build skills for future humanitarian crisis and there is no question in my mind that we have accomplished this and so much more.

"I am proud at what we have achieved together and I am proud of the team that came to Tonga and ventured out in a spirit of friendship, service and cooperation. Your kind hearted people have touched our lives," said the Commander."

Renovations included the Lotofoa Medical Clinic on Foa Island, Faleloa Community Centre, Faleloa Primary School. Koulo Primary School and Pangai Hihifo Primary School.

At the Lotofoa Medical Clinic engineers replaced the roof, exterior doors and windows, adjoining restroom, installed ceramic floor tile in the clinic and nurse’s quarters. Two water catchment tanks and drain was installed on both buildings and painted.

In Faleloa, engineers completed two projects which included the renovation of Faleloa Primary School, a five-room schoolhouse serving 90 students and its Community Centre.

On Lifuka Island, the engineers worked on two schools, Koulo Primary school and Pangai Hihifo Primary school. At Koulo, engineers installed guttering, 2 water catchment tanks and painted the school.

At Pangai Hihifo Primary School, which has 156 students the engineering team repaired concrete columns, foundations and replaced the roof. A combined team from Tonga, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. also framed the entire structure and replaced exterior doors, windows and 1,745 square feet of wall surface and electric lights.

With the help of community volunteers, all of the exterior wall surfaces were primed and painted, improving the learning environment for 156 students.

At Niu΄’ui Hospital the crew of HMAS Wewak, a Royal Australian Navy landing craft poured a concrete slab to hold the medical waste incinerator at the hospital and built a shelter to surround it.

Brigadier Tau΄aika ΄Uta΄atu at the closing ceremony of the Tongans, Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and Singaporeans, the US Navy led mission

At the conclusion of the mission, the medical team treated 4,721 patients in medical, dental and optometry health services provided at the main Niu’ui Hospital and at outreach sites on Ha΄ano, Ha΄afeva and Uiha.

In the outreach medical program to Ha΄ano, Ha΄afeva and Uiha a team of eight medical professionals onboard the HMAS Betano, provided basic medical and dental care to approximately 2,500 people on the remote islands.

Vets also saw animals small and large on Foa and Lifuka islands including cats, dogs, goats, bulls, cows, pigs and horses. At the same time a preventative medical and public health team treated a number of water sources to eliminate mosquitoes and provided technical assistance on improving water sanitation.

The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Partnership is a humanitarian and civic assistance mission conducted with the host nation working with partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. and international government agencies.

The Pacific Partnership 2009 mission to Oceania runs for four months delivering much needed engineering, medical and dental aid in Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

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