If you’re ever in need of a smile, Deon will have one for you. He is funny, full of life and brings joy wherever he goes. When he first came to Hookuaaina six years ago that wasn’t the case. He was extremely shy and introverted. Now, Deon is one of our hardest working interns and loves being a part of our team. He now is a team leader and weekly hosts groups who come for Hookuaaina’s educational programs.
Deon enjoys being out in nature and doesn’t mind the hard work. Working in the lo’i is the most challenging job he has ever had but strangely enough, he finds it very relaxing. It is also very rewarding because he sees the progress of all his efforts. He has been here since the first patch was opened up and even has one lo’i named after him.
Here are some thoughts from Deon about his experience here:
“Working at the taro farm for six years has been amazing. I’ve learned about the Hawaiian culture, people and food through planting, pulling, cleaning, cooking the taro and making poi”.
“The first thought that came to me as my toes, feet and legs dipped in to the mud was ‘well that’s interesting’. At the time I was still young and didn’t have much of a work ethic. I was not willing to put much effort into anything I did and was very shy. I had a problem talking to people and preferred to work alone. As time passed I started to work with others, helping with the groups that came to volunteer. Through this I learned how to communicate with others. It took some time but I’ve learned to be more comfortable with others and with myself. I love the outdoors. When I tell people about my work I share how peaceful and relaxing it is. It’s a place to cool your head. When I clean off the mud at the end of the day I feel at ease and refreshed.”
“I feel I have grown as a person and in my work ethic since I started working at Hookuaaina. I am self-motivated and focused. In groups I am more engaging and I don’t feel as shy as I used to. Working here has never been a “job” but more an experience I get to share with others. Over the years, Uncle Dean has given so many pieces of advice that have stuck with me and helped me along the way. I am so thankful to Uncle Dean and all those who have helped me become who I am today”.