Giving Tuesday 2020
Every year on #GivingTuesday (the Tuesday following Thanksgiving), we partner with a local organization to raise funds for their mission. This year, we are honored to join Kaulana Nā Pua Halau, a Kona-based nonprofit focused on helping youth through the arts of hula, chants, and Hawaiian culture. On Tuesday, December 1, 2020, we are donating 10% of our online and in-store sales to Kaulana Nā Pua. We spoke with Pelena Keeling, the Kumu hula of Kaulana Nā Pua, about their mission.
What is the story behind Kaulana Nā Pua?
We started Kaulana Nā Pua intending to create a cultural youth program to instill Hawaiian values such as kuleana or responsibility, hōʻihi, respect, and by doing it all through the values of Aloha. Aloha is more than a word, it is a feeling that you feel when you know that love comes from knowing who you are and where you are from. Our mission and vision are to help our most prone population of youth vulnerable to drugs, alcohol, and teen suicide find their self-worth and self-esteem through the arts of hula, chant, and Hawaiian culture integrating ʻāina and kai. By keeping youth off the streets and teaching values, we believe that young people will begin to make a difference in our community by sharing and giving back as a pono (right-standing) youth who in-turn become pono adults.
We were honored to host one of your fundraising events on the farm. Can you talk a little bit about your events?
We work strictly with youth to provide a safe space for them to be kids, yet learning how to take care of their responsibilities as they approach 18 years of age and adulthood. We also organize avenues for youth from other countries to exchange culture. This is a way that our youth share what they have learned about Hawaiian culture to the world. One of our projects was attending The Pasifika Festival in Aotearoa New Zealand. Our group raised needed funds throughout the holidays in 2019 to attend Pasifika. A major fundraising event required a venue that would honor all that helped us succeed in our journey. This is when we met Dan and Jan Bolton. They blessed us with a place for our ʻōpio to showcase their skill and talents to their ʻohana and the community that supports them. The venue was beautiful, and mālie; a calm and serene area, which not only made the event a success but allowed our organization to connect with the Bolton ʻohana.
How has this led to where Kaulana Nā Pua is now?
In collaboration with the Bolton ‘ohana, we have been working on the ʻāina or lands of Kahului. This ʻāina is located on the ahupuaʻa of Hōlualoa. We have allowed our youth to volunteer, learning to plant an agroforest and being trained by a great mentor Craig Elevich. This will teach youth from the community how important it is to know where our food comes from, how you can market the native food staple such as kalo or taro, and the medicinal uses of plants. The youth also learn patience of watching a fruit tree grow to hope to reap the benefits of various exotic fruits, that perhaps they may never otherwise get the opportunity to taste. This will also give them the education of learning to grow, market, and perhaps prepare meals. We also are blessed to be able to practice on the lands we mālama as well.
What do you plan to do with the proceeds from Giving Tuesday?
While the pandemic is happening all over the world, we plan on taking a few of our ʻōpio to do cultural exchange with youth in Tahiti. We believe that our youth should be able to learn of other cultures and share theirs. This interaction builds self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence in performing and speaking their mother tongue. We will be attending the Heiwa, the Merrie Monarch of Tahitian dancing. We also will be doing workshops and having opportunity to mālama ʻāina the Pele’s lands where she dwelled before her journey to Havaʻiki (Hawaiʻi). The funds will help us to make this trip happen. If we are regulated from attending due to Covid-19, we plan to have hula camps. These camps that teach our children about wahi pana or famous places in the hula, mele, and moʻolelo or stories of our Moku or island, and invite guest speakers to instill their talents in our youth as well.
I would like to add that we are much more than a “hula group” we are here to take care of our future, our community children and their challenges they face in these unprecedented times. When we engage with youth, being present and honest with one another is key, we are able to address other concerns and symptoms of anxiety, depression, social isolation (due to COVID) etc. We are focused in keeping our children engaged through Hawaiian traditions and culture, but also the responsibility that have in their community which turns the focus from inward to outward to using their gifts and talents to help others. Youth need to be reminded that there are people in their lives that love and care about them. When they feel that support, it gives them the courage to take steps and make choices to grow as individuals.
We are grateful for this opportunity to share our organization’s core values and heart for our youth and community. Its been a challenging year with mandated lock-downs and social distancing, we have not been able to fundraise to cover expenses of costumes, hula implements and travel. We are extremely thankful for your kindness, support and generosity.