By Clyde Kakiuchi
When Jerry Saludez went to see his physician, Dr. Craig Nakastuka, he mentioned that he was ministering to the fishermen located at the pier in Honolulu. He had noticed that the fishermen needed more medical care than the volunteers could offer.
Dr. Nakastuka, an internal medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente, was invited to visit one evening in May, 2016, to see if he could help with the medical needs of the fisherman that gathered at the pier with the Seafarer’s Ministry team.
After a few visits, Dr. Nakastuka made a commitment to provide medical service to the hard working fishermen. He recruited Dr. Jose Deleon and medical students, Abigail Sy, Shantel Pascual, Arlene Kiyohara, and McMillan Jude Nicol Ching.
Within months, the medical team grew from one doctor and one medical student to 2 doctors and 4 medical students. From a simple blood pressure kit and over the counter medicines, the ministry grew to 2 stations giving blood pressure checks, diabetes testing, dispensing medicines and other treatments. The ministry mushroomed into additional doctors and medical students. Later in the year there was an opportunity to minister to Vietnamese fishermen at Pier 17. The medical team split into 2 teams ministering at Pier 38 and Pier 17. Three mothers of the Vietnamese medical students offered to translate and usher the fishermen from the boats to the medical station. Now the medical ministry provides services on Tuesday near Pier 38, Thursday and Friday near Pier 38 and at Pier 17.
When Stanley Togikawa, president of the Shiraki Foundation, found out about the medical team, he observed that they loaded all their supplies in the trunk of a car and didn’t have proper tables or lights to treat the men. He offered the use of the Foundation’s truck and purchased needed tables and trays. The Shiraki Foundation had already been involved in medical missions in Asia and Stanley provided some of the contacts he knew to help with the medical team.
On May 27, 2017, two years after the start of the medical branch of the Honolulu Seafarer’s Ministry, the Shiraki Foundation hosted a “Thank You” dinner for the medical doctors and interns. The program featured testimonies from the interns and presentations to Dr. Nakastuka and Stanley Togikawa. The students were glad to be involved on the team and learned a lot from helping the fishermen. One intern said that she was surprised to learn that many of the fishermen were Filipino and was glad she could talk to them in their country’s language. She also said that she found out that relatives in the Philippines mentioned that they were thankful that someone was looking out for a relative working on a boat. She realized that these men were separated from their families for years at a time and sent most of their earnings home to provide for their families. She was grateful to be able to be of service to these men who sacrificed much for their families.
Photo: Seafarer’s Medical Team were treated to a dinner as a “Thank You” for their ministry to the Seafarer’s Ministry in Honolulu. Dr. Craig Nakastuka is on the right, with Dr. Timothy Kim on the left.