Association of Pohnpei NGOs (APONGO)

July 27, 2016
Kolonia, Pohnpei-The First Pohnpei Civil Society Conference was held on July 15, 2016, at Pohnpei Administration Conference Facility. The conference was jointly organized and facilitated by FSM Alliance of NGOs (FANGO) and the Pohnpei State Office of Social Affairs.
Mr. Herman P. Semes, Sr. President of FANGO gave a brief explanation of the purpose of the conference, which was to create a Pohnpei State representative body, an umbrella organization, of the NGO community of Pohnpei, to serve as the focal point of contact between the NGO community and the Pohnpei State Government, and to help strengthen FANGO. The Pohnpei State umbrella organization would become the body to select the Pohnpei NGO board member to represent Pohnpei NGO community on the FANGO Board of Directors. FANGO is the FSM National NGO that represents FSM NGO community in the Regional NGOs.

Governor Peterson gave the welcoming remark, in which he expressed his appreciation for being invited to this historic conference of Pohnpei NGOs. He also took the occasion to welcome the Honorable Yosiwo George, Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia who was the key note speaker at the conference. Governor Peterson emphasized the importance of Pohnpei civil society in the formulation of public policies and encouraged the NGO community to organize and unify themselves to better represent the interest of the citizens.
In his remarks, Vice President Yosiwo George, a champion of strong civil society, thanked the organizers for inviting him to be the key note speaker at the NGO Conference. He expressed great appreciation for seeming representatives and participants from the government, non-government organizations, private sector and civil society groups.
In his statement, Vice President George said;
“We need both national and states, the private sector, NGOs and civil society groups working side by side to make a difference in actions towards promoting human rights and our efforts towards growing our economy and creating jobs for our people. Without commitment, cooperation, and communication, initiatives or actions relating to human rights I not possible, cannot be fully achieved.”
Vice President George encouraged FSM and States NGOs and civil society to take active role in the national, regional and international forums. He then mentioned about his meeting with the leaders of Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) during which he learned that FANGO has not participated in this regional NGO organization for a while. He personally took responsibility of making contacts with FANGO to revive itself and start working with the States NGO communities and civil society organizations to work together to strengthen FANGO as the FSM NGO umbrella organization.
He also mentioned that he would not want to see any NGO outside of FSM representing FSM in regional and international forums.
Vice President George expressed his gratitude that Pohnpei is taking the lead and hoped that other States would follow.
Regarding the Theme of the conference: “Enhancing the capacity of NGOs to effectively promote human rights through collective citizen's actions”, Vice President said:
“For me, it means we must stand together ready and enhance our capacity to offer assistance to all stakeholders not only to promote human rights but work together to resolve human rights issues. This means working together to promote gender equality, to discourse discrimination against women, and to address human rights issues through collective leadership.”
I call on all NGOs and civil society groups in Pohnpei to engage with youth, women, elders, local and state governments, and our national government to work together to make a difference in our lives. I call on all of you to help people understand their stake in our bold vision to promote and protect our human rights through collective efforts.”
Vice President George ended his remarks by stating in its effort to support and assist activities of NGOs and civil society groups and the private sector, National Government has proposed financial resources in the FY17 National budget.
Based on information released by the Pohnpei State Registrar of Corporation, there are 418 State chartered NGOs in Pohnpei State, not counting those that are chartered by the FSM Government. With this many NGOs in Pohnpei, it is essential that a State umbrella organization is established under which all Pohnpei NGOs will become members.
As numbers of NGOs increase, it may become necessary for NGOs with similar mission and purpose to create their own umbrella organization to represent them under the Pohnpei State NGO umbrella organization. They would become the focal points for their group and would facilitate networking among the NGO community. As an example, Pohnpei Women’s Council is the women umbrella organization for all women organizations in the municipalities. It is the focal point of contact for the women organizations.
Other special guest speakers were invited to speak at the conference. They Included Ms. Evelyn Adolph, UN Development Specialist, UN Joint Presence Office; Mr. Ricky Carl, TNC; Dr. Lucille Apis-Overhoff, Consultant and Mr. Patterson Shed, GEF-Small Grant Program.
The Conference moved to establish a Pohnpei NGO representative body called Association of Pohnpei Non-Government Organizations (APONGO) with a 5 member board of directors elected by NGO representatives at the Conference. The first board and officers of APONGO are as follows:
Herman P. Semes, Sr. --------- President
Adelino Lorens ------------------ Vice President
Stephanie Edward -------------- Secretary
Maria Donre --------------------- Treasurer
Heinrick Stevenson ------------ Member
In organizing the conference, organizers made public radio announcements and sent individual invitation letters to active NGOs about the conference. More than twenty active NGOs were present which included youth, senior citizens, farmers, business community, environment, women, good governance, and civil society organizations.
Organizers of the conference would like to extend sincere appreciation and thanks to all those who participated in the conference; the NGOs, government officials, special guest speakers, and members of Pohnpei Chamber of Commerce. Specific kalahngan extended to Ambros & Co., Inc., 7 Stars and Foodland Farm for providing refreshments and lunch to this event.