“It is for politicians to know which way the wind is blowing; it is for concerned united citizens to raise the wind.” Adapted from the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to set the theme for our political activism project.
RHUULAP NORTHWEST is a coalition of concerned & united citizens from the Northwest regions of Pafeng, Pattiw, and Namonweito in Chuuk State, FSM. Concerned by the continued lack of meaningful and sustainable social and political progress in Chuuk State, particularly in the outer islands of Northwest District and compelled by the need for a new approach to leadership, we have organized ourselves (rhuulap) into a grassroots movement led by Vidalino Raatior to respectfully call for radically new approaches and innovative visions for empowering the people in the Northwest Election District of Chuuk State, Micronesia. Read more
Our Guiding Principles
POLITICS IN CHUUK has become a way for individuals to advance their personal wealth and social status at the expense of the common good. We envision a Chuuk State where citizens are aware of social and political issues affecting them as a people, inspire each other to humble greatness, take responsibility for demanding a transparent and competent government leadership, actively engage in decision-making processes in the community, support political leadership based on sound information and judgment, and share a commitment to take actions that promote the common good of the Chuukese people over self-serving needs. We aspire to serve by the following guiding principles:
UNITY: Uniting People for the Common Good
To reverse years of divisiveness which has destroyed the peace in our small island communities, we need a way to inspire people to rise above the old politics and embrace the wind of change. We envision a campaign that is inclusive of all voices, embrace all sides, err on the side of bringing all old animosity to the same table for the sake of finding forgiveness and a renewed sense of common goals. At the very core of this renewal will be respect for all voices and faith in God’s immense sense of forgiveness and healing of old wounds. We must rally everyone to join our movement of change, to work together for the common good. We envision a Northwest region that is once again alive with enthusiasm for finding common solutions where the youth feel they have a voice in a culture that values the wisdom of the elders, where women lead in the ways that embrace the dignity of their humanity, where the old factions come together to discuss how to improve the lives of the children, where the communities have the necessary skills and resources to demand more of themselves rather than on the government, where education, healthcare, and economic development are improved, and where it matters not which clan you belong or from what island you call home, but that all Northwest islanders work together to improve the future for the next generations over their own self.
TRANSPARENCY: Open Government Leads to Civic Engagement
Over the years, we have lost trust and faith in the ability of politicians to work for the common good. Politics in Chuuk has become a way for elected officials to advance their personal wealth and social status at the expense of the common good. It is not uncommon for politicians to show up to campaign and disappear into their own protective cocoon of self-importance once they’re elected.We must demand more from those we elect into office to work for us. It is the responsibility of the politicians to help us rebuild our trust in government. To do that, the government must be open, transparent, and accountable. Our leaders must have the highest standard of ethical practice of complete openness to reporting on all financial transactions. We must demand a transparent and open government at every level of leadership starting at the national level all the way to the municipalities. I invite all people of goodwill to contribute their visions and strategies into these humble visions of improving the lives of people in these remote outer islands in the State of Chuuk. Together we can empower the people young and old, women and men, locally and globally, to strive for the common hope of making the Northwest region the best possible place to live.
INNOVATION: New Vision for Old Problems
Like a failing heart that needs immediate CPR, our outer islands need radically different ideas to solve deep rooted social problems. Politics in the Northwest has been the cause of disunity among our people and the impediment to social and political progress. Far too many community leaders align themselves to the same old problems and the politicians who have failed to change the system. Politicians continue to feed this culture of divisiveness by feeding people’s need for long term solutions with short term bribery. Rather than inspiring our people with radically new visions and solutions that unite people, they continue to use the same old approach to same old problems. Let us challenge all candidates to build our islands rather than destroy them. Let’s work toward trying new and innovative ways to solve our growing problems in the Northwest. Let’s not be afraid to try.
SERVICE: Politics as Community Service
Politics must be rooted in our culture of akkuno or the personal commitment to improve the lives of others over the desire for social status. Far too many people enter public service with the wrong reason of being treated as royalty rather than those we are sending on a mission to help us. They look at public service as a means of advancing their own agenda over the common good. The people in the Northwest have suffered from lack of progress largely due to the lack of leadership while politicians accumulate wealth. Had we elected political leaders who sacrifice their personal well-being over educational resources, economic development, and health care needs of the people, our islands would have seen incredible progress. We need to elect leaders who truly understand the positive impact of a humble yet effective public servant. We need more leaders who are men and women in service of and with others. We challenge all candidates to transform their war of empty promises into actions that serve the common good of all the people in the Northwest.
EMPOWERMENT: Inspiring Pride in Our Roots & Abilities
The Northwest people (fanapi) have long been unjustly treated by fellow Chuukese citizens living in the lagoon because of our traditional culture, what we wear (or not wear), our diverse dialect and skin color, and our humble demeanor. Our very existence and our distance from the main centers have fed into unchecked neglect by those who lead our State and Nation. Consequently, generations of outer islanders grow up with an inferiority complex; our young people have come to believe that our traditions, cultures, and dialects are not good enough to the more modern lifestyle found in the more developed islands. Enough is enough! We must proactively work to reverse this debilitating inferiority complex and replace it with more empowering pride in ourselves as a people and our ways of life. I challenge all leaders especially those in elected offices to work together to start programs and services that build upon our cultural identities and our hardworking abilities. We must no longer wait for others to continue to destroy our identities. We must rise up and change the attitude of our society by excelling in all that we do.
THE NEEDS in the Pattiw, Pafeng, and Namonweito regions are immense. We recognize the complexity of issues and needs facing the people in these outer islands and acknowledge the incredible challenge to solve these issues. What we present here are our understanding of those needs and solutions to meet these challenges. We present them here with utmost humility in our hearts and invite others to join us in discussing how together we can transform these needs into opportunities for the people.
Educational Reform Must be the Top Priority for Our Children!
An educated citizenry is the key to breaking the cycle of disempowerment among the people in the Northwest region in Chuuk. No single issue deserves top priority in the outer islands today than the ensuring of adequate education for our children. It is imperative that our young generations of outer islanders are given all the available resources to survive in a globalized and fast-changing world…
Faith-inspired Political Leadership!
Our small island communities with close relationships and deep abiding faith in God have been negatively impacted by the political system. Politics as practiced in Chuuk today has torn our people apart and caused unnecessary hardships among an otherwise peace-loving culture…
Uniting Our Efforts Under One Roof!
The people in the Northwest region need a place on Weno we can truly call our own, a place that unites the three regions of Pattiw, Pafeng, and Namonweito, and a place that advances Northwest services and advocacy efforts in the areas of educational opportunities, economic development, health care, leadership development, cultural preservation…
Preventive Care is the Best Medicine!
Preventive health care must be improved to combat the increase of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems in the outer islands of the Northwest region. In a State which suffers from incompetent leadership and lack of resources, the only sure medicine that has always been available to us as a people has been our own way of life; we need to re-educate our people on preventive measures such as the need to lead less sedentary lifestyles…
Prosperity Through Sustainable Development!
The outer islands have suffered from a lack of leadership and sustainable economic development strategies. Despite millions of dollars of Compact funds aimed at capital and economic improvement projects in the Northwest region, all we have to show for are bankrupted Pattiw and Namonweito Authorities, rusted fishing boats, fiberglass boats, and irresponsible gifts to bribe people before elections, and projects for a few at the expense of the many…
Energizing the Young Generation for Civic Engagement!
The youth have been the backbone of our community activities in Chuuk. Ironically, they have also been the members of our island communities who have beeng given the least resources. Their voices are not readily heard because of the cultural misconception that youth means inexperience rather than energy; that youth (hemirit) means lack of wisdom when in fact they bear creativity; that youth are undisciplined when in fact they are hungry for knowledge…
Reuniting People On Common Needs!
Political campaigns and elections have become a source of divisiveness and corruption in our families, clans, communities, State, and even our nation. It has become standard practice among many incumbent legislators to use government funds to buy votes by giving money, sacks of rice, and other food items only to the people who have pledged their votes to the politicians. Rather than focusing on our common needs and common good, politicians have continued to divide people against each other to produce results that help their re-election process…
Bridging Local Needs with Global Resources!
Since the Compact of Free Association went into effect, there has been a steady exodus of outer islanders in search of better life for themselves and their families. Many of our outer islanders living overseas in Guam, Hawaii, and the mainland have established their own base of resources. Yet they have not been empowered to participate in governance and finding solutions to our needs in the Northwest…
Empowering Women’s Leadership Roles!
Much like the rest of the world, Chuuk is undergoing a paradigm shift in recognizing the importance of women in leadership roles. Women have traditionally been the backbone of the family, a role that has over time become a cause of injustice in today’s democratic government; today, many Chuukese men expect women to serve in subservient roles in the community. We must reclaim our tradition of honoring the women in our communities by involving them in governance structures…
Open Governance Encourages Community Involvement!
Ironically, while our Chuukese culture espouses fairness, openness, and hospitality, our government suffers from a lack of accountability and transparency. People have very little knowledge or involvement in the day-to-day operations and policy-making decisions in the government. Because no one is demanding a transparent governance, the political leaders continue to make funding decisions that are not for the greater good of the community…
Having Access to Information & Resources!
The distance of the outer islands from the main centers poses a real challenge of access to resources and valuable information. In a technologically advanced age, there is no reason why these outer islands should not have information readily available to them. But it takes efforts and leadership to prioritize information as necessary component of an effective and actively engaged democratic system of government…
Protecting Our Natural Resources for Future Generations!
The care of our lands, seas, and air is the responsibility of every Chuukese citizen. The government must provide adequate funding, leadership, and programs to educate the public in the proper stewardship of our natural resources. Efforts must be made to empower the NGO’s that are dedicated to environmental issues…