Volunteering for the aina

June 19th, 2013
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HECO volunteers participate in a four-hour workday helping to plant a rare type of banana tree in He‘eia for the non-profit group Papahana Kuaola. Photo courtesy HECO.

HECO volunteers participate in a four-hour workday helping to plant a rare type of banana tree in He‘eia for the non-profit group Papahana Kuaola. Photo courtesy HECO.

How about  a day working on the aina?

That's what some 200 volunteers from Hawaiian Electric Co. did earlier this month at Papahana Kuaola on their 70-acre kauhale in He‘eia on the windward side.

Papahana Kuaola is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to create quality educational programs focused on environmental restoration and economic sustainability "fully integrated with Hawaiian knowledge in order to exemplify a lifestyle respectful of kanaka, aina and akua."

HECO volunteers spent the four-hour workday helping to plant banana trees, remove weeds, gather and debark guava wood for construction of  building frames plus bundle pili grass for roof thatching. They also worked in the lo‘i, or taro patch.

"More importantly than what we are doing here physically on the land, is what all the people who participate get out of it," said Matt Schirman, program director for Papahana Kualoa. "Getting people outdoors in the environment in a place that makes them feel relaxed and welcome — it has a really good effect o people. It's a kind of feeling that I think more and more people need today especially with this fast-paced lifestyle that we have."

The newly constructed gardens by HECO volunteers will help extremely rare types of banana trees thrive, and the guava and pil grass bundles will become part of two "hale pili" where the community will be able to gather.

To learn more about volunteering, visit www.papahanakualoa.com.

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