Years ago I asked a 5 year old what he wanted to be when he grew up. "A fire truck!", he answered. I love working with children. Their responses are funny, spontaneous and usually genuine.
Meet Sane. He is 5 and he wants to be a Blue Ninja. He moved around the tent with lightening speed so I think it is possible.
Arkadia is also 5 and he was really shy when we first met. It took him a few minutes to warm up to me and then he wanted to be in every picture and show me how fast he could ride his bike.
I met R.J. who is 3 as he was following his father out of the village. He was very cautious of me so I took his photo and showed him the image on the back of my camera. He broke into a grin and said I could take another one. I was able to get close so you could see his beautiful long eyelashes.
Rohani is in 6th grade and she likes reading. She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up but she said it in a way that makes me think she will change her mind several times. Her favorite thing about living in the camp is that they are all one family. They care for and look out for each other. You could see that as she interacted with the older and younger children.
Kira is in 8th grade and math is her favorite subject. She also enjoys taking pictures so I let her take a few. Maybe one day she will become a photographer. When I asked what her favorite thing is about living here, without hesitation, she said Twinkle. I learned that Twinkle invests a lot in the children by loving them and teaching their parents how to parent better.
Nainoa is in 10th grade and he is musical, likes math, and loves hula. Because of his own experience with divorce he wants to become a marriage and family counselor.
I have worked with children all over the world and they are more alike than they are different. They want to be loved. They want to feel secure. They want to be able to pursue their dreams. That is why last week, when I heard this area was under the threat of a sweep my heart was so heavy. When I first visited this village, I realized it was a model the government could learn from. I understand that both sides are meeting together now to find a solution and it is my hope that our officials keep the faces of these children in their minds as they do.
To keep up to date, Like Pu'uhonua o Wai'anae on Facebook.
To become involved helping the children and families check out Tyrells Angels. They can point you in the right direction.