I can’t believe it’s almost the end of 2019. I feel like it was just yesterday that we were beginning the new year completely rested from our downtime during the holidays. Yet here we are about to enter the holidays once again. My Christmas wish might be to make time slow down or to add a few hours to my day, I haven’t decided which yet.
We had another great year in our Kūkuluhou (KKLH) program with 34 participants. 28 of them came from the Ke Kama Pono Program in Kapolei and visited us on a weekly basis throughout the year for values-based coaching and hands-on life skills development. In addition, we had a total of 21 interns participate in our Spring, Summer and Fall 10-Week Internships, 4 of which were part of our new ASA, Ahupua’a Systems Apprenticeship program with Windward Community College. 6 interns remain in the top tier as our year-round co-farm managers that we now refer to as “Fellows”. They each play vital roles in all programming and mentoring of all the seasonal interns and apprentices.
We started the year with the theme of ‘Onipa’a, to be steadfast. The boys took some time to reflect on their past year’s successes and identify areas where they could continue to make progress. We then asked them to focus on short- and long-term goals and how to best accomplish them helping to prepare for the life obstacles that routinely come up.
In the loʻi, they practice the values learned through their efforts by preparing and planting a kalo patch alongside our crew. Planting is normally a task only given to the farm managers, so it was a special day to be given the privilege to plant alongside our crew. Preparing a patch for planting helped to illustrate the idea of ‘Onipa’a or standing firm through difficult times and pushing through when obstacles get in their way. Over the year we’ve continued to instill our core underlying value of Nani Ke Kalo, Beautiful the Taro, the idea of respect for ourselves, for others and for a place, throughout everything we do. Another core lesson is Lōkahi, how to create balance and harmony in our lives. Our final focus was on He Wa’a He Moku, He Moku He Wa’a, (A canoe is an island, an island is a canoe) a study of finding ways to co-exist and thrive together as an island community with limited resources.
Several experiences offered to the Kūluhou participants outside the loʻi also help to strengthen and put into practice the values that they learn in the program. We participated in the Ku’i at the Capital for the third year in a row. It’s always a great experience and for a few, it was their first time to ku’i kalo. Food preparation is an important aspect of the program allowing the KKLH boys to learn simple and practical ways to prepare traditional foods. In addition to ku’i kalo, we made laulau and took advantage of ulu season by making ulu chips, a farm favorite! It might be a tie between laulau and ulu chips for the boys. While laulau is a loved staple, there is just something about the crispy on the outside, soft in the center ulu chips with Hawaiian salt that is super satisfying after a long day of work in the patch that we all love.
The highlight of the year for the KKLH participants was tasking them with building their own patch named on their behalf. It took months of perseverance to clear out the hau, remove the roots by hand, give the patch its shape, create the mounds and then to plant. The boys now take pride in knowing that Jared KKP patch is their very own. They built it from start to finish with their hands and can now care for the kalo until it is ready for harvest in the fall of 2020.
2019 has been a year of growth for our Kūkuluhou Program and we are so excited to see what 2020 has in store for us all.
Here are some quotes from current KKLH participants:
“I feel like I’m wanted here like this place means a lot cause people around over here helps me to do better for myself. I feel like I’m special here just being here my myself I’m special. It’s spiritual here you guys are putting your time into us when you don’t have to and that’s the best thing too feeling like we are wanted here that we deserve to be here not just cause we are Hawaii but cause we are part of the island.” – Cody, 16
“I see a lot of growth and it’s more positive. I don’t have an “I don’t care attitude” Cause I do care now. I feel good cause I have a plan on what I’m going to do. I feel good cause my mom them are more happy too and it makes me feel more good about myself. Like my mom them are happy that I’m doing good so I’m happy, I feel good” – Jayden, 16
“It’s not my behavior that’s changed it’s my attitude that’s changed. I see more clear, I see things around me as happy instead sad, dark depressing, I’m not really depressed anymore. I’m more happy I want to do things I want to help out.” – James, 15