As executive director of Reach Out Pacific (REPAC), Ryan Oishi lends a helping hand to the Micronesian community by coordinating the donation of medical and educational supplies from Hawaii to send to places such as Guam, Palau, Yap and Saipan. In partnership with community organizations and businesses, REPAC has already completed more than 10 projects since its inception in 2005.
“I’m committed to Hawaii,” says Oishi, a Kaimuki resident. “It’s where I grew up. My family is here, and my friends are here. Micronesians are our new friends and neighbors, with a complex history. They come here for medical treatment and for betterment of life - the way my great-grandparents came here.”
REPAC sent sponges, surgical blades and catheters to American Samoa after Hurricane Olaf, and brought used Kapiolani Community College nursing textbooks to a nursing school. In March, the Hilton Prince Kuhio donated 5,000 sheets and pillowcases, which were packed in 120 boxes and shipped to Guam for distribution throughout Micronesia. Next month, beds donated by Shriners Hospital will be sent to Kiribati via Norwegian Cruise Lines.
“Physically we are at the center,” Oishi says. “We can play a role in helping our neighbors. They’re the next wave of immigrants. There’s a stereotype that they can’t help themselves, but it’s not true because they really are a resourceful people.”
To prove his point, Oishi notes that Micronesian master navigator Mau Pialug shared the cultural ways of Polynesian navigation - which hadn’t been practiced in years - with Hawaii’s Nainoa Thompson.
Oishi had worked in the Legislature for state Rep. Glenn Wakai, who serves District 31 representing Moanalua Valley, Moanalua and Salt Lake. REPAC is the brainchild of Wakai, the organization’s president.
“REPAC came out of his (Wakai’s) compassion for people,” says Oishi.
Oishi, a graduate of Punahou School, is pursuing his master’s in creative writing at the University of Hawaii while working as a teaching assistant at UH.
“We need more help,” says Oishi. “If you have extra medical and educational items you can donate, we will find a meaningful second life for them.”
- Linda Dela Cruz
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