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Waan Aelõñ In Majel (Canoes of the Marshall Islands) or WAM is a non-profit organization.  The WAM program is a vocational training program using traditional Marshallese skills for men and women — such as canoe building, traditional and contemporary boat building, sail-races and navigation, woodworking and weaving — as a medium to transfer needed life skills and capacity building to the youth of the Marshall Islands. The Waan Aelõñ In Majel (WAM program links with the Ministry of Education (MOE), College of the Marshall Islands (CMI), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other organizations and agencies in order to maximize skills training and capacity building for these youth at risk.

 

The program raises public awareness, while transferring knowledge and appreciation of Marshallese culture. Through the project, unique Marshallese skills such as outrigger canoe building, maintenance, sailing and navigation will be kept alive.

 

WEA links with international organizations concerned with skills such as outrigger canoes and navigation to promote their use, while building bridges across cultures.

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PROJECTS

     BOAT BUILDING SCHOOL  

                        Model Making

 FIBERGLASS CANOES

OUTREACH PROGRAM                        

SAILING AND SAIL RACES

Sail races

Charters

 

BOAT BUILDING SCHOOL

  WOODWORKING

In January 2000 the program began the first training with a Master canoe Builder and 4 young men while building a traditional Tipñõl (mid-size) canoe from local materials. In May, to show comparison of the two building techniques, our advisor began construction of a 23.5’ United Nations FAO designed canoe using contemporary materials and techniques.

 Trainees chopping away on the Jouj log

 

fixing a sail

After launching the first 23’ tipñõl in November 2000, the program continued training in the sailing and maintenance of the first canoe. In addition, the group of trainees began rebuilding an old fishing kõrkõr. In January 2001, 4 new trainees entered the program to begin building a second traditional canoe, a racing korkor. 

 

       

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Model Making

  working on a model canoe

 

 

Started as a pilot project accomplished in the mid-nineties WAM sees the popularity of an accurate and very high quality scale model canoes. Canoe models are sold all over the world to museums, schools and individual collectors.

   

     

 

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FIBERGLASS CANOES

 

 

The Asian Development Bank is funding the construction of a fiberglass shop which relates directly to more youth being trained, more boat building orders and greater potential employment opportunities. A unique operation in the RMI, promoting sustainable economic development while moving the culture and tradition into a modern set of economic circumstances. The integration of contemporary boat building into the program ensures its success as the income generation of fiberglass boat building will sustain the program in the long term.

   

In the past months the trainees completed the mold for a 24 ft. fiberglass catamaran that will be completed for Ailuk Atoll.

 

 

   

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OUTREACH PROGRAM

 

VISITORS  

An ongoing element in the training is the exposure and experience the trainees get with visitors coming to the training program. These visitors include tourists and the general public, but the largest numbers are students from all of the primary and secondary schools.

 

Students from the Public Elementary School in Majuro 

DEMONSTRATIONS IN SCHOOLS

“training the trainees to be trainers”

In 2000, the program started “unofficially” giving lectures and demonstrations about the canoes to the public elementary schools in Majuro Atoll. Currently this program is working with the Ministry of Education to incorporate this in the system officially.

The trainees, with the knowledge they have gained with the written studies on canoe parts, legends, old Marshallese proverbs, wise sayings and beliefs, as well as Marshallese chants (roro) and how they relate to traditional canoes and sea life, are now giving presentations to visitors, especially other young Marshallese students.

          Trainees giving presentations to the Public Elementary School in Majuro

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SAILING

All the trainees are getting experience in sailing canoes. Some have even gotten so good at sailing the small kõrkõr canoe they’ve begun more advanced training on the mid-sized tipñõl and now, some of these young men are participating in the races around the lagoon and even placing in the top five prize winning categories.

 

 

 

SAIL RACES IN THE MARSHALL ISLANDS

 

 

 

The program participates to canoe races in the Majuro and Kwajlein lagoons. Every year in spring, the trainees participated in the 5th annual Coconut Cup Regatta, the race includes all sizes of traditional canoes, yachts, sailing dinghies and wind surfs. For this particular race, the trainers and trainees sailed the program’s racing kõrkõr canoe “WIA” and the tipñõl “WAM”.  

 

 

 

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 CHARTER SAILING TOURS

 

The program has launched canoe charters to develop additional employment opportunities for youth trainees in the WAM program. Sailing trips leave from the Outrigger Hotel and take tourists around the lagoon.

Included in these charters, the trainees took out countless of students from different grade schools during the Education Week and students from the College of the Marshall Islands  (CMI). They were also involved in the Boy Scout’s second camp, which took place in Enemanit Island.

       

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HISTORY

 

Our program started 13 years ago documenting all the major designs for outrigger canoes in the Marshall Islands. After accomplishing this goal, we shifted the focus of the program to the critically needed vocational training of and capacity building for youth.  Among a variety of spin-off benefits, our program’s vocational training center is generating jobs and working toward the elimination of poverty. While the training techniques for these young men and women focuses on canoe building-related techniques, the capacity building and life skills learned are preparing young men and women trainees for jobs in any field. 

    

Learning to weave a basket

 

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LOCATION

 

WAM building hut and offices are located near the Outrigger hotel, in Majuro downtown. Majuro is the capital of the Marshall Islands.

This location is perfect to both recruit students and display boats and models, as well as to organize races. 

  

Hut House and outrigger on front beach

 

   

Office building on beach

 

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  VOLUNTEERS

WAM accept volunteers to help organize events, write grants, links with other organizations both nationally and internationally and raise funds to keep the project running and developing. 
The organization needs also specially-skilled people to improve the fiberglass building program.

 

 

An Australian volunteer, Raewyn, is at present helping WAM with data bases and other administration training. Part of Raewyn's activity includes teaching English to Marshallese volunteers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteer Raewyn teaching English to trainees

 

Volunteer's house next to the office, facing Majuro lagoon

 

 

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  CONTACTS

Waan Aelõñ in Majel

P.O. Box 1453, Majuro

Marshall Islands 96960

e-mail: wampro@ntamar.com

        

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Copyright Waan Aelõñ In Majel

Web design by Silvia Pinca, 2002

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