BY KAYLA VALERA | STAFF WRITER
This past weekend on Saturday, July 15, the Kōkua Kalihi Valley (KKV) organization hosted a number of individuals and volunteers from different programs to participate in their Community Work Day. The monthly event takes place every third Saturday of the month and runs through 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Hoʻoulu ʻĀina, which is located behind Kalihi Valley.
Members of the community come together to work through a series of activities such as weeding wauke (paper mulberry) plants and feeding them to the pigs, gathering bamboo trees, cleaning pili grass for the hale (house) on the site, doing lāʻau lapaʻau (traditional Hawaiian medicine) using the forestsʻ natural herbs, and even preparing food following the end of the day’s work.
One of the caretakers at this event, Uncle “Scotty” Garloh, explained that when KKV was founded 45 years ago in 1972, it was a pastor who saw that the health needs of those living in Kalihi Valley were not being met due to their neglect by the state and its distance from the city. To address this problem directly, the pastor decided to redirect his energy into the people of Kalihi Valley so that they will have the means to receive basic health care within their own community. Since then, KKV has been revitalizing the community through its programs such as its health care facility, the Kōkua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services, its community led kitchen, Roots Cafe, as well as its reforestation endeavor, Hoʻoulu ʻĀina.
Since then, KKV has been revitalizing the community through its programs such as its health care facility, the Kōkua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services, its community led kitchen, Roots Cafe, as well as its reforestation endeavor, Hoʻoulu ʻĀina.
Hoʻoulu ʻĀina has been under the management of KKV since 2004 and extends through 100 acres of upland forest. KKV’s efforts in maintaining this land have to do with its mission of cultivating a healthy community, by forging a healthy relationship with the people and the land. Once this is established, the resources provided by the land can help to nourish the people.
During the regular weekday, Hoʻoulu ʻĀina is open to groups and individuals who wish to lend a hand tot he reforestation, so long as they contact beforehand. For the Community Work Day, anybody is welcome to come as long as they sign a waiver and photo release form at the location before the activities take place. Work can be flexible and suitable for all, from children to elders.
One of the bigger groups who volunteered their time for the Community Work Day was U.H. Mānoa’s Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP). This summer program brings together college students from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds who are interested in completing a health degree program. The course of the program runs for 4-weeks, in which the students live in the U.H. Mānoa dorm and participate in daily activities that exposes them to educational experiences and allows them to meet with professional health experts who are in the work force that they would like to pursue.
Lan Nguyen, a third-year college student in the HCOP who aspires to be a heart surgeon, explained how the program hopes to promote the health of the community– similar to the mission statement of KKV.
To learn more about the HCOP’s Summer Health Academy, visit the website with its program information here. If you are interested in participating in any of the Hoʻoulu ʻĀina events, visit the website’s volunteer page here.