Soft Opening of the Tongen Inepwinew Service

Thursday 12 December 2019 – Shinobu M. Poll Building

About 75 people participated in the Soft Opening of Chuuk Women Council’s (CWC) Tongen Inepwinew Counseling Service including special guest Her Excellency Dr. Sharman Stone, Australia Ambassador for women and girls.

Also in attendance were representatives from the Federated States of Micronesia National Government, IOM, Chief of staff representing Governor of Chuuk State, APIMAR SafeNet and the DFAT office.

Her Excellency Dr Sharman Stone, Chuuk State First Lady Madam Bersita Elimo and CWC President Kiki Stinnett performed the ribbon cutting of the Tongen Inepwinew Counseling Center and then guests were invited to tour the new facilities.

Funding for the CWC counselling project is through the Australian Government’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) program, which also funds the CWC’s Young Women’s Empowerment project.

This CWC project includes the building’s renovation to house new counselling services that respond to, and aim to prevent, gender-based violence (GBV), including domestic violence. It also covers the cost of staff to operate the GBV counselling service over the next three years, with the service to include advocacy work, training and mentoring of support volunteer counsellors at the community level.

‘To improve our response to violence against women, we will work with the community stakeholders, the church and government in a multi-sectoral approach,’ said Ms Stinnett. ‘Our long-term vision for the Counselling services program is to meet the needs of the community by expanding the CWC Counselling space to accommodate a full suite of victim, or survivor, support services and a larger clientele.’

‘Survivors’ wellbeing is the highest priority,’ she said.

This Soft Opening ceremony took place on 12 December, officially opened with Prayer led by His Excellency Coadjutor Bishop Julio Angken, followed by Ms Stinnett giving welcoming remarks and then introduced Her Excellency Dr Sharman Stone to the crowd of government, partner and community members.

In Her Excellency’s remarks, Dr Stone shared that she was impressed by the achievements of CWC and its partners, working collaboratively to combat gender-based violence and finding ways to provide such important services.

Following the event’s official tour: Eleanor Setik, Senior Counselor, provided an overview of the Tongen Inepwinew Counseling Program; Jayrene Engichy, Program Coordinator, shared updates on the DFAT-funded Young Women’s Empowerment Program; and Christine Robert, Program Officer, gave a success story testimony on her experience with the CWC.

Lunch was served and special gifts presented to the special guests by First Lady Elimo and closing remarks were delivered by Chairman of the CWC Board, Mr. Wisney Nakayama.

Her Excellency, Dr. Stone, stayed to network with the women and local leaders; she shared that she was excited to learn more about Chuuk, as this was her first time to the Northern Pacific.