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Planting Seeds of Hope

Creating peaceful communities in harmony with nature, through the eyes, hands, and hearts of the children.

Photo of Hoa Aina O Makaha Makaha
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Hoa Aina O Makaha, Land Shared in Friendship, is a project supporting family, community self-reliance, and peace by providing a space that brings people together to share. Together with the children of our community, we are rediscovering the traditional values of Hawaiian culture and its innate love for the land and its respect for our interdependence on each other and the world in which we live. Hoa Aina O Makaha is located adjacent to Makaha Elementary School where a high percentage of students suffer the effects of poverty, including homelessness. The core programs of Hoa Aina o Makaha, or The Farm to which it is affectionately referred by neighbors, sprang from the needs expressed by the school's students, faculty, and families. Our 3 core programs, namely Na Keiki O Ka Aina (The Children of the Land), Ke Ala (Pathway to Learning), and Malama Makaha Container Gardening, are each designed to provide a peaceful environment in which everyone who visits feels nurtured, inspired, and filled with a sense of hope for the future. Through Na Keiki O Ka Aina, The Farm offers children a sense of belonging and protection. Ke Ala creates the opportunity for children beyond Makaha Elementary School to enjoy the wonders of nature, participating in uplifting and peaceful experiences they carry with them to recreate the same feelings within their own families and communities. Malama Makaha Container Gardening provides a gathering place and activity in which multi-generational families can interact with each other while learning to grow and prepare their own fruits and vegetables. Peace is cultivated in communities through the cultivation of the land. The Farm presents opportunities for people to care for land which in turn provides personal growth, filling them with a sense of peace. This feeling is eventually shared beyond The Farm's gardens, becoming a seed of hope for the world.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our immediate beneficiaries are the children of Makaha, ages 2 through 12, facing the socio-economic challenges facing an impoverished community. Hoa Aina O Makaha provides opportunities within a community that lacks resources, including land. While the challenges faced by this community are numerous and are often the focus of those outside the community, we focus on the good within our neighborhood making the possibilities endless.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There are a handful of organizations providing similar experiences on the Leeward Coast of Oahu, but Hoa Aina O Makaha is the only one in Makaha, focused on youth in primary school, and sharing a message of peace with local residents and guests from around the world. Hoa Aina O Makaha, founded in 1979, reaches far beyond our local community to deliver a message of peace and hope. While many have come to realize the value of school gardens, few districts have been able to secure funding for such programs. Hoa Aina O Makaha is the first to have a school garden teacher funded by the school. This success can be attributed to the relationships developed with school administrators, supporting community members, and the Department of Education and the mutual respect shared amongst all partners for their respective contributions.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Hoa Aina O Makaha started out as a barren land and, with the support of the community, has evolved into a learning resource center engaging children, their families, and educators in activities providing experiential lessons in science, math, health, and social studies and hands-on experiences in environmental sustainability, eco-spirituality, and cultural applications to the land and life.

Our website: http://www.hoaainaomakaha.org/

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Gigi Cocquio, founder of Hoa Aina O Makaha and former priest of the Roman Catholic Church, came with a wealth of community organizing experience. He met Sr. Anna McAnany when first arriving to Hawaii and she suggested he visit a barren piece of land that was owned by Sacred Heart Church. He came with a machete and a few friends, began clearing the land, and planting one seed at a time. From weeds and brush, a collection of flourishing gardens arose.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Families are the first community experienced by an individual and peace within a family requires activities that can be done together in a place where everyone feels safe to share openly, collaborate, and share and reflect together. It is with family that we first experience small gestures as symbols of love that create meaningful relationships. Caring for the land is a lesson in caring for ourselves and for each other and as we practice caring for the land, we restore the harmony between our mind, body, and heart, and we take this to our respective communities where we can influence more people to care for themselves and other and be more inclusive and, hence, continue spreading peace to those communities beyond our own neighborhood.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Key partners include Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (WCCHC) and Place-based After-school Literacy Support (PALS), and Place-based Learning and Community Engagement in Schools (PLACES.) Our partnership with WCCHC provides a venue allowing us to extend our reach in the community. We participate in the local Farmers' Market they sponsor where we share seedlings and produce with their Market clientele. We have acquired a following who embrace our concept of "Take what you need, leave what you can" which allows families on a budget to sample various produce they may not normally risk tasting and preparing for their families. PALS and PLACES both provide financial support allowing us to deliver program lessons and activities to schools along the Waianae Coast at no charge to the school, their students, or their families. The partnership allows for school field trips to The Farm as well as site visits for the creation of school gardens amongst other projects.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

53.1% of Makaha residents self identify as Native Hawaiian while the greater Waianae Coast has the highest percentage of Native Hawaiian residents in the world with 28,404 identifying as Native Hawaiian. With this high concentration of Native Hawaiians, there is a natural love for the land and appreciation for the Hawaiian culture and its values system and we are able to tap into this to re-build pride in one's culture and pride in one's community.

Geographic Focus

This idea targets Makaha, but so easily translates to people and communities around the world.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Each of our programs are actively running. Na Keiki O Ka Aina began in 1987 in partnership with Makaha Elementary School and runs each school year. Teachers who moved to different schools wanted their students to enjoy similar Na Keiki O Ka Aina experiences which resulted in the creation of Ke Ala in 1996. Malama Makaha Container Gardening followed soon after, inspired by families interested in experiencing the same joys of caring for the land as their children had shared.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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