Ho’okua’āina

-by Tammy

Some people are simply inspirational. A local guy and his wife started a nonprofit called Hookuaaina. Their mission is to “empower youth to realize the meaning and purpose of their lives by helping them develop life strategies and skills through the cultivation of kalo and Hawaiian values-based coaching.” They offer internships for as long it takes for the individual to grow.

Recently we were introduced to Dean & Michelle Wilhelm through our daughter. We learned that they were celebrating ten years of success with a fundraising dinner. Because we try to give back to our community, currently via the American Diabetes Association and the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, we thought we’d stretch our wings in a different area. We invited dear friends to join us for an amazing evening.

Our daughter asked what we learned during our tour of the farm and dinner. We learned that taro is a sustainable crop. They use a piece of the plant to replant at harvest. The same plant returns to the Aina season after season. We learned, through Doctor Tafoya & Miranda volunteering here and other lo’i on Oahu, that farming taro is grueling and rewarding work. We learned that poi comes in various stages of age and that all three are ono. We learned that taro desserts are no ka oi. We learned that not only is Uncle Dean an amazing inspiration and guiding source to many youth, but he is also a beautiful chanter. We learned that lovey people with a passion can inspire and motivate others to love our Aina and the Hawaiian culture. We are so very lucky to live Hawaii and be surrounded by amazing and genrous people!

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