Pacific Angel making a difference in Tonga

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rachelle Coleman
  • Pacific Angel-Tonga Public Affairs
More than 160 members from seven nations joined forces to provide humanitarian assistance to the citizens of Tonga as part of Operation Pacific Angel-Tonga July 21.

American, Tongan, French, Australian, New Zealand, Filipino and Indonesian military personnel kicked off the first day of the exercise opening a health services outreach and conducting civil engineering projects at three local schools.

Electricians, structural craftsmen, carpenters and plumbers will work together during the PACANGEL exercise to repair and replace doors, locks, windows, wiring, partitions, sinks, faucets, toilets and various additional requirements at five local schools.

A makeshift clinic was set up in a local college auditorium with physical therapy, optometry, dental and family medicine clinics as well as a pharmacy. With the help of Red Cross volunteer interpreters, doctors and medical technicians were able to provide acute care and educate patients on preventative health measures for different ailments.

"It's definitely a worthy project that we are working with different partners to provide a service that Tongans may not have day to day," said Maj. Paul Kim, a public health officer. "It's about building a lasting relationship."

Kim conducted presentations for patients in the waiting area of the clinic about safe food preparation techniques and he shared information about the chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne virus prevalent in the area.

PACANGEL enhances participating nations' humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.

"This is a humanitarian assistance and the people of Vava'u in Tonga, not only the people of Vava'u, Ha'apai too, and Tongatapu appreciate very much the exercise and assistance provided by not only the Americans, but also other national foreign forces here in Tonga for ... Pacific Angel," said Maj. Maama Misi, an operations officer with the Tongan military.

Officially in its seventh year, PACANGEL supports U.S. Pacific Command's capacity-building efforts by partnering with other governments, nongovernmental agencies and multilateral militaries in the respective region to provide medical, dental, optometry, and engineering assistance to their citizens. This operation will be used to improve and build relationships in the event of future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

Since 2007, U.S. military members, along with host nation military and civilian personnel throughout the region, have improved the lives of tens of thousands of people through PACANGEL operations.