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Editorial: Touched by Angels: Many Benefit From Compassionate Service of PACANGEL

Editorial: Touched by Angels: Many Benefit From Compassionate Service of PACANGEL
Two US Air Force staff providing free dental check up in Tavua on July 17, 2017. Photo: Shahani Mala
July 25
11:25 2017

Just over 10 years ago, Retired US Air Force Colonel John Cinco, better known now as “Doc Cinco”, found an Air Force Reserve aircraft and crew willing to provide transportation for a team of 80 medical and engineering personnel for 10 days while they trained on island nations across the Pacific.

That gesture for the healthcare for fellow human beings, especially the less fortunate, has grown and became known as Pacific Angel, or PACANGEL. It has earned the respect of many who have had the opportunity to experience the work they carry out.

Most of those who had been ‘touched by an angel’, and over the years tens of thousands have, are those who had not experienced, let alone known of the health benefits enjoyed by citizens of the world’s leading countries.

Colonel Cinco who is considered the “Father” of Pacific Angel and his 80-man team’s initial mission, funded by Pacific Command, was received so positively that they decided to fund similar projects every year, which still provides that helping hand today.

PACANGEL 17 is a joint and combined humanitarian assistance exercise that includes general health, dental, optometry, paediatrics, and engineering programmes, as well as subject-matter expert exchanges.

Over the past two weeks, military personnel from the US, Fiji, Indonesia, Philippines and an observer group from Vanuatu provided health care in different fields to over 4000 patients in Ba, Tavua, and Savusavu.

Apart from providing health care, the military personnel also conducted engineering projects at five schools, including Tagitagi Sangam School where they had set up base. Their engineering work included plumbing upgrades to meet local codes and improve hygiene, adding electrical outlets and fans, repairing roofs, installing gutters, and eliminating safety issues.

Perhaps the US Ambassador to Fiji, Judith Cefkin, best sums up the whole mission when she said it showed the strong partnership between Fiji and the United States.

“Pacific Angel is a tangible demonstration of the great things that our countries can accomplish together.”

For the visiting military service people, one could tell they thoroughly enjoyed doing their work here among the locals. Their expertise and Fiji’s famed hospitality and friendly nature have struck a bond between them and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces personnel who have worked alongside them. Fiji is indeed fortunate that such missions visit us. Such visits are only possible because the Government has created the environment of peace and stability that provides the platform for them. The engineering programmes made upgrades to five schools. They painted, installed electrical outlets and fans, updated plumbing, replaced roofs, installed gutters, and fixed other safety concerns.

Fiji, United States, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, France, and Vanuatu joined forces to bring relief and smiles to many people.

The people of Fiji would like to say to PACANGEL Vinaka vakalevu for your kind assistance in helping our people of the rural areas and islands. Bon Voyage and all the best for your next mission.

CHARLES CHAMBERS

Feedback: charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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