If you’re looking for a good laugh, make sure to find Brandon. A Kailua native, Brandon has been working with Hookuaaina for almost three years and is now our lead intern. His mom used to run a state program that brought transitional teens to the lo’i. When that program ended, his mom asked if Uncle Dean needed any help. Brandon has been a tremendous asset to the team from day one and can be relied upon for carrying out the most difficult of tasks.
Brandon enjoys working outdoors and the natural setting that Hookuaaina provides. The work in the lo’i is gratifying because when it’s time to work, everyone works hard. Brandon has a patch named after him because he has persevered in the clearing of California grass and Hau to open up many patches for production. He led a team of boys from the Kukuluhou program to pull out a 6-foot deep tree root embedded in the middle of the mud. This was no easy task because the only tools they were able to use were their own hands. It was a great lesson in teamwork and a monumental accomplishment for them all.
Through working at the lo’i, Brandon feels he has become a young man who has self-worth and value. While he is typically a private person, he loves that he can talk freely and not have to always have his guard up. He enjoys the physical nature of the work and likes to challenge himself. Since he’s been at the lo’i, he notices that he is more patient with others and looks for the good and joy in things. Before working at Hookuaaina, he felt it was ok to always be salty (or angry).
“My experience working with Hookuaaina at Kapalai has positively benefited me in many ways. One of the greatest benefits is that working in the lo’i has given me a positive avenue to exert any pent up stress or negativity and reroute it in a positive manner. I’ve learned not to take anger out on a specific task or object, rather to be in a positive environment where my stress can melt away and there are just weeds to pull”.