At a time when the economy is falling on hard times and the State of Hawai‘i is experiencing budget cutbacks and layoffs, it is difficult to think there could be anything good on the horizon. Many families living in the shelters at Kalaeloa have fallen victim to these hard times and are dealing with financial and emotional woes.
For the children at Kalaeloa, a gleam of hope pierces the darkness of hard times through Ka Pa‘alana and Kama‘ehu. Both of these programs have outgrown its humble beginnings of holding activities in open tents and amidst the flying dirt particles of Pointer Field. Today, the children study and play in two large, circular structures that can comfortably seat 30 children in each.
These round buildings, called Yurts, are patterned after the durable homes used by nomadic peoples of Central Asia. They are supposedly “portable,” can withstand winds up to 70 mph, and are surprisingly cool even on a hot summer day.
Ka Pa‘alana program manager Danny Goya boldly wrote a grant to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 2009, while simultaneously asking WCO if the land adjacent to the shelters could be used as the designated area to set them up. When both opportunities came through, the yurts began going up at the end of Summer 2009.
Normally, these structures are set down on the ground, but with liability issues, and ants, scorpions, and centipedes roaming the grounds at Kalaeloa, Danny had a construction crew build two wooden platforms a few feet off the ground. Using 1-1/4 in. plywood flooring, those decks are built solid and will be around for a very long time (normal flooring of a typical house uses 1/2 in. or 5/8 in. plywood).
Then over a period of 3 weeks, almost like magic, the yurts were erected and ready for use as classrooms. Looking more like NASA command modules than classrooms, these durable buildings are being used everyday by both the preschool and youth programs.
The crowning jewel of this building project finally nestled in its place on April 21, 2010 when the honorable Rev. William Kaina humbly dedicated the two yurts buildings to two highly-impressionable women of the leeward coast community: Aunties Kanani Ka‘alawahia Bulawan of WCO and Sweets Kameha‘ililani Wright of Ka Pa‘alana/PIDF.
The work and energy each has put into helping the families get off the beach has been phenomenal . . . so, as a way of showing them gratitude, PIDF had wood and lacquer plaques made with their names engraved, along with a short message of thanks and PIDF’s five core values listed at the bottom. The two plaques have been permanently mounted in each of the two structures. Go in and see them!
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