U.S. Coast Guard begins August presence by giving back to the community

A team from the U.S. Coast Guard ship Cutter Walnut donated books and sporting equipment to the students of Lufilufi Primary School yesterday as part of ongoing operations in Samoa this month. 

The ship is in Samoa to enhance American relationships in the Pacific through Operation Aiga, which is dedicated to strengthening Coast Guard partnerships with governments in the Pacific, together with another vessel, the Cutter Joseph Gerczak.

The Joseph Gerczak is currently in American Samoa but it is scheduled to arrive in Apia for community outreach next Monday.

The Chargé d'affaires of the U.S. Embassy, Tony Greubel, said: “The U.S. strongly promotes people to people ties.”

“The visit by the U.S. Coast Guard team is aimed at inspiring Lufilufi students to learn English better and to take all the subjects better, and also we donated sports equipment to promote physical activity in their life.

“It is also beneficial for the crew because they have been out in the sea and this will give them a chance to interact with the Samoan people and experience the richness of the culture."

U.S. Coast Guard Captain Christopher Jasnoch said that this was his first time in Samoa but some of the crew had been here before.

“This is our first community project we have worked on with the Chargé d'affaires and the US Embassy to have a good programme lined up like doing some reading and writing activities, and hopefully do some sporting activities to keep the children fit and healthy.

“We are truly grateful to be in Samoa, and there are 18 crew members here right now,” he said.

The Principal of Lufilufi Primary School, Lagaaia Fiti Lagaaia, conveyed his heartfelt appreciation toward the visiting team from America for their kind donations and taking time out of their busy schedule to teach the students reading and writing lessons:

“Our country is slowly evolving in terms of the use of technology and one of the of difficulties faced by my school is the lack of resources like a computer lab so the children may learn how to use computers.

“We still need more reading materials for the children to have a broader understanding of things we are teaching in school, it will assist greatly with the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture’s literacy and numeracy programmes. 

“Another struggle is not having a laboratory with its equipment specifically for the field of science. 

"The Government has given their support through a grant to assist us with the target is to develop our younger generation for a better future but it is not enough for many more needs to be addressed within the functioning of our school.”

He said that there are 169 students at the school with 6 teachers. Some classes have over 40 students per class. 

The U.S. Coast Guard will join forces with the Ministry of Police and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to patrol Samoan waters as part of a mission to jointly enforce maritime laws inside Samoa's Exclusive Economic Zone in August.   

Samoan shipriders will join the Coast Guard on patrol with a focus on identifying and deterring illegal, unreported and unregulated shipping and respond to the increasing threat posed by drug trafficking. 

Australia and New Zealand will join the patrols, which will also respond to any emerging search and rescue needs in the region while they are deployed. 

Last July police and maritime officers completed a two-week course with the Coast Guard that included training on conducting search and rescue operations and ship boarding at sea. 

The Coast Guard exercises 11 bilateral shiprider agreements with Pacific Island Forum nations with exercises focused on promotion regional security.

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