P1 Rongelapese to evacuate The people of Rongelap Atoll in the Northern Marshalls are evacuating their atoll due to fear that radiation levels resulting from nuclear tests continue to cause illness and death among them.
P1 Lost men return A most remarkable voyage that will sure qualify to be listed in any compilation of drifter stories was acted out live these past two months — starring a group of five fishermen from Ailinglaplap, a sturdy boat and the huge Pacific ocean. The story began April 3 with a fishing trip by Aikne Laat, Anej Ishiguro, Obton Menanjo, Manke Ami, and Brenje Bujenlang. They began drifting after running out of fuel. April 25, they were confronted with a Russian military vessel. The Russians provided a 10-day supply of bread, milk and tin food, and told the Marshallese they were 1,000 miles west of Ailinglaplap. They outfitted them with 20 gallons of diesel fuel after an engineer fixed their frozen motor. They were given a compass and directed toward the Mortlock islands in Truk District in friendly, clear English. Unfortunately, their little boat was more at the whim of currents than Russian warships and the Mortlocks were bypassed. May 5 they came into contact with an Australian cargo ship. They were given two gallons of water, a wave and a depressing view of the Australian ship heading toward the horizon. Four other boats were spotted at a distance but no contact until a Japanese fishing boat, Fukamaru, closed in, waved and sailed on. Next day, Eauripik Atoll in Yap was spotted so it is possible the Japanese thought the boat was Yapese and not lost. The 42-day ordeal ended May 15 when the Marshallese climbed ashore and were greeted by the 100 people of Eauripik. They had trouble communicating until they met Louis Figirilig who worked in the Marshalls with Captain Willy Posnanski and spoke Marshallese. With no radio, the men had to await arrival of the Micro Spirit on its copra run out of the Yap capital of Colonia. They returned to the Marshalls May 26 on Continental.
P1 ‘Get with it’ guys win one for the girls A big debate about whether or not women should be allowed into the Jaluit Atoll Development Association ended with the “liberals” winning, allowing women to join JADA for the first time since it was formed in mid-1994.
P1 RMI homeless rising in Hawaii The number of Marshallese and Micronesians who are homeless in Hawaii is increasing, according to service providers in Hawaii. Yet homelessness is but the tip of the iceberg of problems for Marshall Islanders and Micronesians living there. Both health and state government officials told the Journal that the deciding factor of a Marshall Islander’s or a Micronesian’s ability to make it in Hawaii is their ability to speak English. “Lack of language skills is a big barrier to applying for Quest (a health insurance program for people with low incomes), human services and housing,” said Public Health nurse Barbara Tom.
P12 Around Town We stopped by Irooj Imata Kabua’s office over at the RRE complex where he was holding court with several local guys. He was comfortably seated behind a lineup of four significant photos. Two of the photos show Irooj Lejelan Kabua and Labini in 1964 signing the first 99-year lease for the US to use Kwajalein. That was back when the Americans showed up with bags loaded with $20 bills totaling $750,000 and said “sign here.” As someone famous said, it was an offer they couldn’t refuse. That deal was repudiated in the late 1970s, when the US tore it up and agreed to pay more than that amount per year in rent. But it didn’t come easily and that’s what photo number three shows: Imata is showing off the bruise the day after he was assaulted by an Army security guard on Roi Namur in mid-1979 during a “sail in” to protest over the rent situation and problems at Ebeye. The last photo is Imata “illegally” on Roi Namur during that same summer with a number of fellow protestors, including Kwajalein Senator Jolly Lojkar and Darlene Keju-Johnson.