Two Thousand Books Contributed by the United States Government and the Asia Foundation to Counter Trafficking in Persons in the RMI

July 14, 2023 – The United States Government, in partnership with the Asia Foundation, held a book handover ceremony at the U.S. Embassy’s chancery. Four Marshallese organizations received books from the Asia Foundation as part of the Foundation’s contribution to the USAID supported Pacific Regional Initiative. The Pacific Regional Initiative strives to counter trafficking in persons by focusing on prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership. Literacy is a core element in helping prevent trafficking. The Foundation donated 2,000 books to the Marshall Islands ranging in educational topics for all ages, with a value of $170,000. The topics include business, IT, political science, good governance, history, geography, education, self-help, literature, arts, and children’s storybooks. Participants in the handover ceremony included the U.S. Embassy Chargé d’affaires Henry Hand and Deputy Chief of Mission Lance Posey, Mr. James Ley of USAID, and Mr. Peter Fennell and Jasmine Henry from the Asia Foundation. In addition, the recipients included Public School Commission Director (SCIA) Asena Ketedromo, Alele Museum Representative Lola Shutz, College of the Marshall Islands Librarian Verenaisi Bavadra, and the Cooperative School Principal Amy Ishiguro.

The following institutions received books from The Asia Foundation:
• Public School Commission
• Alele Museum
• College of the Marshall Islands
• Majuro Cooperative School

Chargé d’affaires Henry Hand said, “Thanks to the efforts and assistance from The Asia Foundation, progress has been made in combatting trafficking in persons. The U.S. is proud to
stand with the RMI, our implementing partners, local NGOs, and the Marshallese people themselves to address this serious human rights issue. I invite all of us to learn more about this
issue, including the business community and citizens. We all need to be part of this conversation.” CMI recipient Ms. Verenaisi Bavadra stated, “As a librarian, there are never enough books. I remember being in Fiji and seeing most of the books donated by the Asia Foundation, and it feels like a full-circle moment to be here in the RMI. Once again, I have the pleasure of seeing books from the Asia Foundation on behalf of the College; we thank you.”

The Public School System recipient, Ms. Asena Ketedromo, thanked the Asia Foundation for the generous donation, “Although I am not a librarian, I work with the curriculum development for RMI public schools, and when we create the budget, we can never budget for library books as it is considered a luxury, so I just know the kids will so appreciate receiving these beautiful books.”

In closing, the Asia Foundation Chief of Party, Peter Fennell, concluded, ” the Foundation has had a book donation program, Books for Asia running for over 50 years and there is nothing better than giving children the opportunity to read a physical book in this day and age. These books represent a contribution to our program. In summary, I would like to thank everyone for coming and attending. We are very appreciative in collaborating against this pervasive problem in the Pacific and around the world.”

The Asia Foundation is now focused on its Let’s Read Program, a free digital library of books produced by local authors and illustrators in Asia and the Pacific. For more information about the Asia Foundation, please visit their website at asiafoundation.org.