By Diane Ako
YAP, MICRONESIA (KHNL) - Hawaii's voyaging canoes are wrapping up their Micronesian voyage and preparing to sail to Japan on or around April 9. Crew from the Hokulea and Alingano Maisu were greeted with a welcome meal and a special performance when they landed on Yap. Doctors from a Honolulu charity were also part of the visiting group.
A team of volunteer doctors and nurses partnered with the canoes, to bring healthcare to Micronesia. It's a unique trip for the Aloha Medical Mission (AMM). This rural health clinic in Yap was just one of the places where AMM volunteers set up to see patients.
AMM executive director Butch Dela Cruz explains, "The whole point of the mission was to bring healthcare to Micronesia and to be able to establish contacts to we can provide continuing services to the people of Micronesia."
The medical mission estimates it saw 1,500 patients in a month. In addition to general checkups like eye exams and routine physicals, doctors treated exotic diseases. Here, they test for worms that cause elephantiasis.
"This is the first time for us to partner with a wonderful group, Polynesian Voyaging Society. Usually our missions are to Asia but this is our first medical mission to Micronesia."
And a first for some of their doctors, too! "One of our doctors who just came back the other day, Dr. Vernon Ansdell, who's also the mission leader, was aboard the Hokulea. He spent a day or 2 sailing with the crew to Palau."