Guam support flows for FSM food shortage

by Scott Radway

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News): March 26, 2002 - One woman called from Barrigada. She wanted to give $200.

Another person called from the University of Guam. That person wanted to give $100.

Some callers just had groceries they were willing to part with, said Shannon Murphy, co- director of the Ayuda Foundation, a Guam-based nonprofit organization.

All in all, when people on Guam heard last week about a food shortage in the outer islands of the Federated States of Micronesia, they wanted to help, Murphy said.

"Guam is going through so many of its own financial problems and for people to call and say 'I've got a five-pound sack of rice I would like to donate' or 'I have a bag of groceries, can I help?', it's just really to nice to see that happening in these hard times," Murphy said.

Natural disaster

Last week, a news story described how Typhoon Mitag tore through the FSM and left many outer islands without basic food supplies. The storm ripped the breadfruit and bananas off the trees and killed taro patches by filling them with saltwater, outer island officials reported. Without those food staples, and with low water supplies due to El Niņo, many people were becoming ill. One person died in Chuuk, said one official.

And people responded to the need, Murphy said, adding that not just Guamanians wanted to help. A call even came in from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Someone who had worked in Micronesia wanted to help.

"They said the money is on the way," Murphy said.

The money is used to buy medical supplies and the food is being packed and sent down on the kindness of local businesses. About 10 pallets from the Salvation Army and a few from Foremost Foods are expected to be sent to Chuuk Wednesday, free of charge, on a National Fisheries Corporation cargo flight, Murphy said.


On Friday, some of the supplies gathered through the Yap Community of Guam are expected to be sent by the Matson Navigation Company on a ship, said Samson Pretrick, Consul General of the FSM Consulate.

Once the food and medicine arrive at the main island in each state, it will be shipped out by the local governments, officials said. About 15 islands in all will receive aid, Murphy said.

"It's great. We are very excited about the turnout, we didn't expect this turnout," Pretrick said. "We are very grateful for the generosity of the Guam people."