At the Molokaʻi Drug-Free Movement event, a resident walked up to the booth that handed out free Covid-19 at-home test kits and asked, if possible, if she would be able to get a few more test kits.
“We have four generations living on one property. From a one-year-old to an eighty-seven-year- old, there’s 18 of us under one roof,” she shared.
Multigenerational homes are common in Hawaiʻi, and for some neighboring island communities where access to resources and services aren’t always readily available, having a Covid-19 outbreak at home could be life-threatening.
In an effort to bridge the gap, PIDF kickstarted Hoʻopalekana Ola (to strengthen and defend life), an initiative through the Department of Health’s Hawaiʻi Pacific Health Institute (HIPHI) Cares Grant. Once the grant was contracted, the Hoʻopalekana Ola team wasted no time.
“PIDF has never been afraid to jump to the frontline of our community’s needs. In our 25 years, we have served over 128,000 family members in more than 50 communities. Where there is a call for support, we try to respond to our lāhui however best we can,” said Shawn Kanaʻiaupuni, PIDF President and CEO.
Hoʻopalekana Ola HIPHI Cares Program Manager, Perlas Bardouche, previously managed the Open Arms Harbor Isolation-quarantine facility that PIDF opened during the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020 through March of 2021. She is supported by team members with vast experience in health care.
When the HIPHI contracted team began its outreach efforts, the recent Covid-19 outbreak on Molokaʻi seemed like the right place to start. Hoʻopalekana Ola partnered with Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool to set up booths at the Molokaʻi Island Foundation’s Molokaʻi Drug-Free Movement event, which hosted local vendors and speakers to share more about their community-strengthening stories, services and programming.
During the event, Hoʻopalekana Ola met with local residents, distributed hundreds of free at-home Covid-19 test kits, provided safety guidelines and resources, and shared more about upcoming education programs like the Global Biorisk Advisory Council certification, a course to prepare for, respond to and recover from biohazards in our community spaces.
The Hoʻopalekana Ola team also connected with members at the Molokaʻi General Hospital, Molokaʻi Community Health Center, and local retailers. They were greeted by smiles as residents recognized PIDFʻs kalo logo.
“Are you with Tūtū and Me?” The Molokaʻi residents asked, and shared stories about attending Tūtū and Me or the people they knew (if not themselves!) who worked with Tūtū and Me.
The small-town island community has been home to a Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool for over 15 years. Hoʻopalekana Ola is partnering with other PIDF programs like Tūtū and Me and Ka Paʻalana that serve neighbor island communities and are trusted by their local residents, many of whom live in multi-generational homes.
For households with ʻohana ranging from keiki to kūpuna, access to Covid-19 at-home test kits and knowledge about infectious disease control, and knowing what to do when someone at home is exposed or tests positive, will prepare families and save lives.
While society at large transitions into a post-pandemic world, rural communities are vulnerable to the detrimental impacts of Covid-19 with fewer medical resources, hospital beds, and physicians.
“Coronavirus is here to stay, so we’re committed to helping our communities navigate in the safest and healthiest way. We want our ʻohana to survive and thrive,” said Bardouche.
That’s why PIDF is committed to strengthening ʻohana and to seeing that our communities are healthy and sustainable.