To rework a wise adage, it takes a whole world to raise up a village - and Calvin Sagara is in the thick of that mission right now at Bagram Airfield, just north of Kabul, Afghanistan.
AVietnam veteran with time in Kosovo and Korea, the 1965 Leilehua graduate was an administrator with the Hawaii Judiciary and a program specialist for the state Department of Human Services before being called out of retirement last fall by the Army Reserve. He’s now sergeant major of operations for a U.S. battalion in Afghanistan, working to celebrate the opening of a Korean hospital and training facility on the Bagram base.
The Korea International Cooperation Agency has put up a new 30-bed hospital with three operating rooms, an adjacent two-story vocational training center for 75 students and housing for 80 staff members. It’s part of an ongoing, international partnership to improve health services in the country and prepare Afghans to run their own health care system. Sagara says he’s watched in amazement the agency’s progress since last August as it works to replace a makeshift clinic that has attracted more than 250,000 patients from around the war-torn country.
“The Koreans are ingenious and fantastic in working day shift and night shift,” Sagara wrote to his brother Donald, a CPA in Wahiawa. “They give employment to the locals and are providing a long-term health solution ... I have the utmost respect for the hardworking and dedicated people of Korea.”
Of the Korean contingent on base - a short walk from Sagara’s quarters - most are civilians and volunteers. Many reportedly have been living in containers or wooden structures.
Dedication ceremonies are set for April 12, and Sagara hopes to have plenty of macadamia nuts and other island treats on hand to share. He knows that local Koreans would be proud of the hospital project and want to help. So through Donald, he has secured the support of Chief Justice Ronald Moon (whom he once worked for) and Olive United Methodist Church in Wahiawa, which has a large Korean population. While Justice Moon appealed successfully to Honolulu’s Korean Consul General Bong-Joo Kim for a congratulatory letter, the church’s tri-lingual congregation is thick into collecting mode, reports member Henry Lee.
“We’re getting soap, toothbrushes, candy (for the younger patients) and other goodies for them to use at the hospital. It makes you feel good that you’re doing something while others sit back watching,” Lee says.
And of his friend and fellow Reservist Cal Sagara, Lee adds, “He’s very dedicated, very determined and a real swell guy.”
To get on the Sagara bandwagon, call Donald at 621-0115. Items can be brought to his Wahiawa office at 707 Kilani Ave. for early shipment to the April 12 dedication.
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