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Volunteers Bring HOPE to the Pacific
By Kristopher Radder, Project HOPE/Pacific Partnership 2011 Public Affairs

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LAE, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (May 29 2011) - Project Hope Doctor Alan Jamieson examines a child in the village of Tent City, Papua New Guinea during Pacific Partnership. Pacific Partnership is a five-month humanitarian assistance initiative that will make port visits to Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia. (Royal Australian Navy photo by Leading Seaman Imagery Specialist Helen Frank)

DARWIN, Australia - Four members of Project HOPE's second rotation team will depart the mission, June 14, and will be replaced by nine new volunteers in Darwin.

Project HOPE conducts land-based medical training and health education programs in 35 countries, and had participated in both Continuing Promise and Pacific Partnership missions.

“The sharp minds, skilled hands and caring hearts of HOPE volunteers aboard the USS Cleveland will undoubtedly improve the lives of communities in this remote region of the world. Project HOPE is honored to be part of this effort,” said John P. Howe III, M.D., President and CEO of Project HOPE.

Cmdr. Michael Smith, director of medical operations for Pacific Partnership 2011, believes Project HOPE’s volunteers contributed to the success of the medical mission.

While the majority of the participants are military, regardless of what nation they come from, the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working as a part of the Pacific Partnership team are just as important as their military counterparts.

“Project Hope, World Vets and the other NGOs are a great asset, and they bring something different to the table,” Smith continued. “They don’t accept anything as impossible.”

Project HOPE lead, Dr. Alan Jaminson, commented that the volunteers really came together as a team and performed their duties above what was expected. While on board, these civilian volunteers have lived like Sailors, sleeping in berthing, eating on the mess decks, and adhering to the routine of shipboard life.

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LUGANVILLE, Vanuatu (Apr. 30, 2011) Maureen Kisicki holds a child at Northern District Hospital during Pacific Partnership 2011. Pacific Partnership is a five-month humanitarian assistance initiative that will make port visits to Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, and the Federated States of Micronesia. (Photo By Kristopher Radder)

"The Project HOPE team came together with the officers to help serve food in the galley as an appreciation of the service for the enlisted personnel who work on the mess decks," Jaminson said. "Each of the individuals who are leaving have their own special gift they have maximized during this rotation, and I'll miss them all. But I know the new volunteers will fill their shoes."

Thanh Dinh, on her first volunteer mission with Project HOPE, is a pediatric nurse in California. She decided she wanted understand more about humanitarian assistance in remote areas so she can one day bring the knowledge back to her home country of Vietnam.

"I heard about Project HOPE from a colleague at work who was on a couple of missions," Dinh said. "This is what I have wanted to do, but I didn’t have an opportunity to work with any other organizations. Project HOPE fit well with my schedule."

Dinh and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cheryce Tinaynan worked as a team at Wampar medical clinic near Lae, Papua New Guinea, processing patients.

"It was very rewarding. I loved it,” said Dinh. "Papua New Guinea was amazing, and I'll miss the locals. It reminded me of where I grew up, and it was a beautiful country."

Project HOPE was created in 1958. The organization is dedicated to providing a lasting solution to world health problems. Its focus is providing medical assistance and education to people around the world so they can better care for themselves.

As the four members ready themselves for the next chapters in their lives, nine more Project HOPE volunteers will be part of the Pacific Partnership 2011 team in Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance mission sponsored by U.S. Pacific Fleet. This year, Pacific Partnership has completed its mission in Tonga, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea. It will continue on to Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia. The team is comprised of military support from partner nations Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Spain, and the United States, and NGOs Project HOPE, World Vets, the University of California, San Diego Pre-Dental Society and LDS charities.

For more news from Pacific Partnership, visit the mission's website and blog. Connect with Pacific Partnership on Facebook, and Twitter.