July 22, 2009

By Bill Stinnett
The Kaselehlie Press

Hal Moskowitz travelled from New York to Chuuk State, Federated States of Micronesia to see his niece, Caitlin Corneliess, a volunteer teacher with Jesuit Volunteers International at St. Cecilia School. I had the pleasure of meeting him and was impressed that he would travel out all this way just to visit his niece.

While staying at the Truk Stop Hotel he happened to see Jojo Peter, President of the College of Micronesia, Chuuk Branch, in our restaurant on several occasions. Hal inquired about Jojo and learned who Jojo was, his position, and eventually they were talking.

Jojo lives in a wheelchair and at some point, Hal volunteered to look into getting Jojo a new wheelchair. We old timers in Micronesia have heard offers to help like this hundreds, if not thousands of times, and we listen politely but don't hold our breath.

Still, there was something about Hal and when he asked for a tape measure so he could measure Jojo's wheelchair, I hustled up to my office and brought one down and he, his friend, and Jojo measured away.

Hal had a great time in Chuuk, a wonderful visit with his niece Caitlin, and as all visitors eventually do, departed Chuuk for home. Jojo and I would mention his new wheelchair in passing because we each saw and heard something in ole Hal's manner and voice that make us thing "maybe this guy is different".

Hal made contact with Jojo and me and pretty soon we realized that this kind offer from a stranger turned friend was going to happen. Hal got the wheelchair and then discussion began about how it was going to travel from New York to Chuuk.

We islanders have friends and family in almost every major city between New York and here so my suggestion was to find someone coming this way, give them the chair and have them check in as a wheelchair bound passenger - that way, the airlines would deliver the chair for us.

The chair travelled from New York to California, on to Hawaii and finally to Chuuk.

Jojo now has a brand new ultra light weight multi-adjustable sports chair. (A Sunrise Guardian Quickie 2 wheelchair valued at approximately $3000.)

Moskowitz is an Assistive Technology Provider in NYC. He secured a donation from the manufacturer representative and added some of the accessories like coated handrims for grip and rear anti tippers for safety.