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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Papahana Kuaola, Kaneohe, Hawaii, USA

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Papahana Kuaola, Kaneohe, Hawaii, USA
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Registered: December 2011
City/Town/Province: honolulu
Posts: 1
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The Pono Project
The idea of the Pono Project was first established when I began to realize the dropout rates and the lack of knowledge of the Hawaiian culture at my school. Pono is a Hawaiian word that means being righteous, virtuous, and successful. This particular word is exactly what I want students at my school to become. The Pono Project was created to grab unmotivated students and teach them not only what it means to be pono but what it means to live life selfless. This program is year round and consists of activities such as working with native and invasive plants of Hawaii, working with the homeless and elderly, and having inspirational speakers come in at least once month. With my past field work experiences with the native and non native species of Hawaii, I came to a conclusion that with this type of work, with working with the aina ( land) I learned to appreciate not only the culture of Hawaii but the land itself . I then decided that working with the land, the culture, and having inspirational speakers come and speak about their own challenges will be all that it takes to change the members of the Pono Projects ways of life.
On a Saturday afternoon, the Pono Project had its first field trip to a cultural site called Papahana Kuaola. Papahana is towards the mountains of Kaneohe and the land consists of a stream, several ponds, a garden full of native plants, and a handful of taro patches. As members of the project, we helped level out the ground and build walls for a lo’i (taro patch) as well as chucked logs to make room for planting of native plants. The members of the Pono Project were able to learn about invasive trees and learn about the Hawaiian culture while working in the lo’i. As we worked a alongside a forest, many of members were stunned when they learned that less than one percent in that forest were native species. Being exposed to the beauty and culture the land holds at Papahana and with the information they obtained, they began to realize what malama the aina ( take care of the land) really means.
People come to Hawaii believing that the beauty of Hawaii is Waikiki yet Waikiki was man built. The Hawaiian culture is rapidly disappearing due to all the culture, from Asian to Micronesian, constantly coming over. Working with the aina is important because that is where culture begins. Many live life respecting only people but when you are given the chance to work with the land you build respect for not only people but your whole surroundings. When you unveil your eyes and see what the land really means you start thinking before you litter and you start thinking about what pollution does to the land. When you see the beauty that land holds you begin seeing hidden beauty in other things such as culture and the people of the culture. It is important that the Pono Project helped Papahana because they are trying to preserve the Hawaiian culture by using the land as a main component and with these cultural places others can be granted the chance to experience, hands on, what the Hawaiian culture consists of.
Working at Panpahan Kuaola with the Pono Project helped not only the members but the land as well. We were able to make space for planting of native plants by removing the remains of invasive trees as well as help build a lo’i so more kalo (taro) can be planted. Papahana was once a junk yard during World War II but with the Pono Projects help we were able to contribute in the works of preserving the Hawaiian culture and bringing back the beauty the land had before invasive plants and junk came in. As for the members, many do not travel to other sides of the island like this and to see their reactions to the outdoor air, to see the bond they created with each other, to see the quietest people become the loudest was such a precious and fulfilling experience I will never forget. I had peers from the Pono Project constantly posting on Facebook about their weekend saying “it was a dream come true” or “it was awesome.” The next day at school, a boy from the Pono Project spoke to two of the advisors about how much fun he had. He even asked me several times when the next meeting would be. What really touched me though, was that the Pono Project had students in it that many people did not believe in; these students did not even believe in themselves. To see them open up and enjoy themselves was all I needed to understand that the Pono Project was really making a difference. We asked for feedback from our members and all those who responded spoke about understanding the aina and one said “that without the Pono Project I wouldn’t appreciate the land we live on.”
My passion is working with native and non native plants of Hawaii. When I work in the blazing hot sun, throwing logs heavier than me, I feel happy, and sharing the love I have for the aina with others truly is a blessing. When I think about what the Pono Project has accomplished I cannot stop smiling because I used my one true passion to help others change the way they live and to become pono. I am now constantly thinking about other opportunities I can bring to the members of the Pono Project, for example, having them apply to the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps summer program or work with the Department of Forestry and Wildlife. My two main long term goals are having schools around the island of Oahu adopt the Pono Project and create a program similar to this in college where college students work with unmotivated teens with outdoor activities. I end this with the Pono Project’s motto: “O ka pono ke hana’ia a iho main a lani” ( Blessings come to those who persist in doing good).
· Date: December 27, 2011 · Views: 3092 · File size: 24.2kb, 100.3kb · : 640 x 480 ·
Hours Volunteered: 51
Volunteers: 17
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 15 to 35
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