On Saturday, May 28, 2022, the Bdelul La’Arkemais (BLA) Organization continued with Day 3 of the Bul ra Kemais Restoration Project that began two weeks ago on May 14, 2022. The Bul ra Kemais Restoration Project is made possible through the collaboration and cooperation of many partners in the community, cheldebechel, and international partners. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the United Nations Office for Project Services(UNOPS)and (BLA), a Meketii Non- governmental organization (NGO), in connection with a project financed by the Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP), implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on behalf of the three GEF Implementing Agencies – UNDP, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank – and executed by UNOPS with the overall project goal to green the traditional stone paving swimming pool and empower the Meketii community in participating in the traditional stone paving method of best practices The project to restore the Bul ra Kemais or better known today as the T-Dock Swimming Pool is not an original idea but instead is a dream shared by many spanning the length of Palau, from Kayangel to Hatohobei. Koror has been the center of commerce and development for more than a century and T-Dock has served as one of the main points of entry into this commercial hub. Furthermore, T-Dock also houses the Bul ra Kemais comprising of two swimming pools. Most, if not all Palauans, have their own stories of the Bul ra Kemais, as a young child learning how to swim in the kiddie pool or watching swimming competitions. Having secured some funding through the MOA, the dream began to take shape. But with such an overwhelming undertaking to restore the pool, close collaborationwas needed for this task. Leading BLA, Legislator Omelau with the blessing of the traditional and elected leadership of Koror State, engaged the Ngara Mecherocher of Melekeok to seek assistance from them to help with this traditional practice of omengades. With great enthusiasm, the Ngaramecherocher led by Paramount Chief Reklai Raphael B. Ngirmang, Delegate Frutoso Tellei, Governor Henaro Polloi, and Adelbai Along Tellei showed up in great number to break ground and begin the work to restore the Bul ra Kemais. This restoration project provided a great opportunity for traditional knowledge sharing from the Ngaramecherocher to the Youth of Meketii and the Ngarametal of Koror. As wisely shared by Buikiechad Jefferson Thomas, “When we (Ngaramecherocher) leave, we will have done two things: 1. Helped with the omengades, but more importantly, 2. The Youth of Meketii and the Ngarametal will have learned the traditional skill of omengades.” Both were accomplished and so this past Saturday, the work continued led by BLA and the youth of Meketii with groups from the State of Ngaraard, Koror hamlets of Ngermid and Ngerbeched, and the National Baseball Team.
This work would not have been possible without the wisdom and guidance of our traditional leaders including traditional community-based women’s organizations, namely the Maiberel and Ypang Seineng¸ who showed great support when this project was first mentioned and shared their own experiences in standing up to pressures to filling up the swimming pool for development. Additionally, these women provided support by donating meals for the tireless workers and stayed to share stories and motivation throughout the work days. In addition, to strengthen the collaboration between Melekeok and Koror, the BLA and Ngarametal led by the traditional (men and women) and elected leadership of Koror went to Melekeok to help with the euais removal

Bul ra Kemais Restoration Project

project at Ngardok Lake on May 21. The Bul ra Kemais Restoration Project has not only began to return the swimming pools that we are all familiar with but has begun a new relationship of collaboration, traditional knowledge sharing, but has also forged friendships and partnerships between the youth and elders alike.
To learn more about this project and how to get involved in the Bul ra Kemais restoration, please contact Legislator R. Eledui Omelau or BLA at bdelullaarkemais@gmail.com.

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