HIKI NŌ 2|20|20: John Rao and Other Stories | Program


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NŌ Next on HIKI NŌ, stories from across our
island chain. Having lived like a really, uh, rotten life,
it just makes life easier now, because I just think however I ‎
would’ve done something back then, I just do the exact opposite now. ‎ Meet a man who had a spiritual awakening that
turned his life completely around. ‎ See how a young cartographer creates imaginary
worlds with the maps he draws. ‎ Learn how to make jewelry out of old magazines. ‎ Meet a single mom who is just one of the thousands
of Big Island residents struggling to make ends ‎
meet. ‎ Find out how a group of seventh graders is
helping to get essential hygiene products to the people in ‎
need. ‎ And get to know a chef who has dedicated his
life to feeding the homeless. ‎ All on this episode of HIKI NŌ, coming to
you from the students of ʻEwa Makai Middle School on ‎
Oʻahu, Home of the Tigers. ‎ That’s next on Hawaiʻi’s New Wave of Storytellers,
HIKI NŌ. ‎ Can do! ‎ We’re here at ʻEwa Makai, on the island of
Oʻahu. Did you know that ʻEwa Makai is one of the
few ‎ green schools in our ʻEwa district? We grow our own produce in our own courtyards
to be later used in ‎ our culinary classes. We create dishes like laulau, made with our
own ti leaves, baba ganoush made with ‎ our own eggplants, and smoked salmon canapes
made with our own cucumbers and tomatoes. ‎ Our first story takes us to the island of
Kauaʻi, where students at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School ‎
tell the story of a man who led a life headed for destruction, until a spiritual awakening
turns his life ‎ around. ‎ Having lived like a really, uh, rotten life,
it just makes life easier now, because I just think however I ‎
would’ve done something back then, I just do the exact opposite now. ‎ Kauaʻi resident John Rao loves music, the
ocean and his relationship with his god, but his past tells a ‎
much darker story. ‎ When I was young, my parents started to get
divorced, a friend of mine commited suicide, um, when I ‎
was young, like early teens, pre-teens, those had really negative effects on me. I just started going down ‎
the wrong path. I dropped out of high school. I was doing a lot of drugs. I found myself in my early 40s, ‎
homeless, living on the streets in Arizona and California, I had a very bad IV drug habit. ‎ When John hit rock bottom, he feared where
life would take him next. ‎ I didn’t realize when I needed to change. I didn’t know how. It took me crying out to God to make the ‎
change happen. I never went to NA. Like I said, I was living on the streets,
homeless, IV drug user, it ‎ didn’t happen overnight, but it took several
years. I just started to change, the Lord started
working in ‎ my life. The Lord would send somebody into my life
with an act of compassion and love, and a lot of ‎
times her name was Mary, so I venerate the Blessed Mother like crazy to this day. ‎ John’s spiritual journey led him to Kauaʻi. But an early morning stroll and an unexpected
encounter ‎ paved his way to his god. ‎ Listening to the holy spirit moved me to come
to Hawai’i and I had always dreamed of living in ‎
Hawai’i. I work in the concierge business. I sell activities at Brennecke’s Beach Center
down in Po’ipū ‎ Beach, and I serve St. Raphael Catholic Church. One day, I had a walk up the Hapa Trail over
here, and ‎ it was very early in the morning and the sun
was rising over there, and the Hapa Trail comes out right ‎
over here at the driveway of the church and, uh, I saw that they were having mass, it was
a weekday and ‎ it was a 7 a.m., and a bird flew out of the
bell tower as I was about to turn around and walk to Kōloa, ‎
and he flew right in front of my face and flew right back up in to the bell tower and
that’s how I started ‎ coming to St. Raphael Church. ‎ There’s always something about him. When I first met him, he was a role model
to me. Here I am, ‎
comfortable in my life and I see this man who came here with nothing and yet, there’s
something that he ‎ has that, um, is very positive and very attractive. ‎ With the help of his friends, his church and
his new island home, John continues to rebuild his life with ‎
happiness and hope. ‎ Well, I’m undoing all the mistakes of my past,
you know, living the most righteous way that I can. ‎
Nobody’s perfect, we’re all sinners. I’m living my dream, uh, like I said, this
had always been like a ‎ dream of mine, too. I live in a nice community. Hang out, surf, and play music with my friends
and do ‎ things with meaning and purpose. ‎ John openly shares his story of struggle so
others can learn from his mistakes and draw inspiration from ‎
his journey. ‎ Without sounding cliché, all the things you
always hear: Stay in school. Don’t do drugs. Stay in church ‎
is the number one thing. ‎ He’s a role model because he has shown that
you can change. You can move forward. You don’t have to ‎
stay the same way you are. He’s hit rock bottom and he’s turned around. ‎ It only takes a couple little bad decisions
to turn into a whole bunch of big bad decisions. Before you ‎
know it, you can be away from the church and far away from God and far away from your dreams
and ‎ your goals, and your aspirations, and that’s
an awful place to be. ‎ This is Gabriel Go from Chiefess Kamakahelei
Middle School for HIKI NŌ.‎ Now, from the HIKI NŌ archives, another story
of spiritual redemption, this time from the students at ‎
Maui High School in Kahului. ‎ One, two, three…[SINGING]‎ If I were to
describe Unite in three words, it would be: Following God’s design. ‎ Perfect, let’s try again.‎ Achieving such a vision was a big task for
18-year-old Marc Antonio, who was given the responsibility ‎
to contact local performers and organize the Unite concert held in June. ‎ Unite is kind of this organization where we
aim at uniting the body of Christ. We unite and come ‎
together and change the youth of this community because there’s been a lot of violence, there’s
been a ‎ lot of suicides, a lot of drug usage and it’s
become a problem on this island, so that’s what Unite pushes ‎
for. It’s to make that first step, to make that
first encounter over these kids. Reaching out to teenagers ‎
becomes a goal because that’s where you see the most violence and that’s where you see
the most ‎ depressing stories.‎ However, Marc had quite a journey before taking
on this first step. ‎ I went through my own depression. I went through these suicidal thoughts. I experienced what it’s like ‎
to have, to want to kill yourself, to want to be on the edge of where you’re like, there’s
no point of me ‎ here, there’s no one that loves me here. I should just go, there’s no point in me being
here anymore. And ‎
that’s a very dark time and a lot of teenagers experience that. For nights, I was praying like, let me find
‎ the purpose, let me be able to rest in just
your love and just focus on that. Please give me hope again. ‎
Give me this hope that I’ve been wanting. ‎ Fortunately, for Marc, his prayer was answered
in an unexpected way. ‎ Then I get a call from the Maui County Baptist’s
Association that, hey, we’re thinking of putting on a ‎
concert. Let’s put it towards the youth. Let’s appeal to the youth. What do you think? Are you willing ‎
to oversee the whole project? And then, God’s like, yeah, this is where
I’m gonna make you feel loved ‎ again. So, I called back the organization, I said,
yeah, I’ll take on the project. ‎ After answering the call, Marc went from feeling
empty to having a lot on his plate. Responsible for ‎
gathering the local bands for the concert, Marc found his purpose. ‎ But this is not a treasure I want to keep
for myself, but I want to give, now that it’s kinda my mission to ‎
love on these kids, give them hope, give them the same love, and my goal is to have that
love keep ‎ going. ‎ This is Yasha Ronquillo, from Maui High School,
for HIKI NŌ.‎ We’re back at ʻEwa Makai Middle School in
ʻEwa Beach on the island of Oʻahu in our new sixth grade ‎
wing. All of our sixth-grade core classes are located
on the top floor and most of our electives on the ‎
bottom floor. Students can work together in the same space
to show their amazing talents and ‎ personalities through lots of art forms, including
photography in our yearbook class and digital art. ‎ Now from the Nuʻuanu district of Oʻahu,
students from Hongwanji Mission School introduce us to a ‎
young cartographer who is charting the worlds of his imagination through maps. ‎ Cartography is the study of maps, but to me,
cartography is creating your own world and creating a ‎
place for your imagination to go into. ‎ These days, maps are tools many now use on
smart phones and computers. For Hongwanji Mission ‎
School sixth grader, Sidney Cogswell, maps are unique works of art that he draws by hand. He became ‎
interested in map-making in the summer of 2019. ‎ I was watching this YouTuber who focused on
D&D, Dungeons and Dragons, but I was really interested ‎
in the cartography part, so I decided to learn some techniques, like drawing mountains and
forests. So, ‎
that’s how I got into map-making and that’s what I like. ‎ Since then, Sidney creates one-of-a-kind maps
with a unique characteristic. ‎ I draw, um, fictional maps based off real-world
land masses. I don’t really plan my maps, I make ‎
themes. So, I just focus on the terrain features. I do get inspiration from nature. Like the jagged cliffs ‎
and you know, the ridges. ‎ As he draws his maps, Sidney constantly looks
for ways to make his maps better. ‎ After I finish a map, I tend to just look
at my maps, see what I did wrong, see how I can fix it and how I ‎
can make it look better and maybe change my process and then, I hang them up and then,
I admire them. ‎
The thing is, I don’t ever get bored drawing maps because there’s so many possible outcomes. You use ‎
your creativity, you make a world one way. Another person uses their own creativity,
make it another ‎ way. I like it because you have many, many possibilities. ‎ Sidney has turned cartography into more than
an interest. It’s become a passion. ‎ My biggest goal in cartography is to be able
to make people have, you know, fun with maps, I guess. ‎
And so, they can enjoy maps the way I like them. ‎ As Sidney pursues his newly found passion,
he will continue to use maps as a canvas to display and ‎
share his unique worlds. This is Brody Tran from Honwangji Mission
School for HIKI NŌ.‎ We take you now to the Makiki District of
Oʻahu, where students at Roosevelt High School show you a ‎
fashionable way to make use of all those old magazines you have laying around. ‎ The average household throws away thirteen
thousand separate pieces of paper each year. Today, we’ll ‎
show you how to recycle your unwanted magazines by using the paper to make a bracelet. ‎ Gather all the materials: a used magazine,
glue-stick, toothpicks, ruler, scissors, clear elastic cord and a ‎
pen. Collect similar color magazine pages for your
design. We’re using blue for our bracelet.‎ Measure the string to a desired length. Make sure to leave extra length and cut.‎ Measure the base, zero point eight centimeters
and connect it to the corner by drawing a diagonal line to ‎
form a long triangle. Keep alternating the side that you measured
the base. Repeat this till you have ‎
approximately twenty-three to thirty strips. Cut along the lines.‎ ‎ Use a toothpick and align the base of
the triangle to it. Tightly roll it up and glue the tips. After the tips ‎
are sturdily glued on, remove the bead from the toothpick. Repeat till all cut strips are turned into
beads. ‎ Slowly, string the beads together on to the
measured strand. To finish, tie the ends together. This is ‎
Tracy Dinh reporting for HIKI NŌ.‎ We’re back here at ʻEwa Makai Middle School
as part of the Honouliuli ahupuaʻa on the island of ‎
Oʻahu. If you didn’t know, we Tigers love showcasing
our talents and expressing ourselves through art. ‎
All over campus you can find stunning artwork and murals created by our very own Tigers. That was ‎
created during after-school hours and seasonal breaks by students and community sponsors. The murals ‎
aim to inspire integrity, growth, and to communicate hā, or in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, the breath,
which lets us ‎ share our ideas and connect with everyone
around us. ‎ Now from Hilo, students at Waiāea Elementary
School, introduce us to one of the thousands of Big ‎
Island residents who are struggling to make ends meet. ‎ According to the ALICE Report, which stands
for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, over ‎
sixty percent of Hawaiʻi Island’s families are struggling financially. ‎ The last report that we have was put out in
2016. For Hawaiʻi Island, it showed that sixty-one
percent of ‎ households on our island are in ALICE or in
poverty. What was even more alarming was comparing
‎ ‎2014 to 2016 and seeing that number increase
from fourteen percent within those twenty-four months. ‎ Brittany Milam lives that statistic. ‎ I’m a thirty-seven-year old single mom. I work full-time. I’m also pursuing my bachelor’s degree, ‎
actually a double-major, in UH-Hilo for Psychology being my primary and Sociology, my secondary
‎ major. I’ve got three kids and they are my everything. Childcare is a big obstacle for me, for sure,
um, ‎ I’m not originally from Hawaiʻi, yeah, and
I don’t have family here, so it’s…it is a struggle. But there are ‎
so many resources in this community. ‎ An organization that is trying to coordinate
those resources is Vibrant Hawaiʻi.‎ Vibrant Hawai’i is an organization, it’s really
a community movement that brings together government, ‎
education, social services, faith community, philanthropy, business and individuals from
around our ‎ island to really move towards our vision of
a vibrant Hawaiʻi, and what that vision comes down to is an ‎
equitable opportunity for everyone to build wealth. And our community’s definition of wealth ‎
encompasses our human, our social, our natural and our financial capital.‎ It’s a vision that gives Brittany Milam something
to strive for. ‎ So, my perfect day would be the day that I’m
no longer worried about tomorrow, where I can sit ‎
comfortably in my own home with my family and feel secure financially and not have to
worry, really. ‎ This is Dayvan Wong from Waiākea Elementary
School for HIKI NŌ.‎ From the HIKI NŌ archives, here comes another
story about a community pulling together to help those ‎
in need. This time from the students at Maui Waena
Intermediate School on the Valley Isle. ‎ Some people leave like a dollar, two dollars,
they get their change…‎ Five years ago, when we started Maui Fresh
Streatery, we really wanted to be part of our community. ‎
We didn’t want to be just another fly-by-night food truck, and to do that, we started something
called ‎ our Aloha Tip Jar. It’s a little jar that sits out in front of
our truck and when people like our service or ‎
like our food, they can leave a tip in the jar, but instead of keeping that tips at the
end of the month, we ‎ donate them to different non-profits here
on Maui, whether it be families in need, children fighting ‎
cancer, community clubs and organizations. ‎ Although the Aloha Tip Jar does support community,
it finally found a challenge that change couldn’t ‎
conquer. ‎ When the government shut down, later part
of last year, we thought, how can we help these people that ‎
weren’t going to be getting their paychecks. And the problem was too big for our tip jar,
meaning, we ‎ couldn’t collect enough tips to give to all
of the different workers. And so, we thought, how can we help ‎
everybody that’s affected? And so, I had seen something called Pay it
Forward and how it works is, we ‎ have a board and we put up the very first
five meals. We offered five meals to any federal worker
that ‎ was not getting a paycheck and they could
come in and take a tag off the board and redeem it for a free ‎
meal. Three-to-four-week period when the shutdown
was occurring, we had over five hundred meals ‎
donated. I think we fed almost 450, if not more, federal
workers and families in need. ‎ Chef Kyle and his food truck were guided by
more than just the desire to help the community. He was ‎
driven by his kuleana.‎ So, to have someone think about us, especially
during these kind of trying times, is really, really ‎
thoughtful and appreciated. ‎ Kuleana is an interesting word. We oftentimes refer to it as our responsibility. Being a small-business ‎
owner here in Maui County, it’s our responsibility to take care of our community, our ʻohanas,
our ‎ families.‎ Not only do these actions benefit the community,
they build community. ‎ All of the things that we do to give back
to our community, whether it be through our Aloha Tip Jar or ‎
our pay-it-forward board, are very rewarding to me because it gives me a sense of belonging
to our ‎ community. ‎ This is Holden Suzuki from Maui Waena Intermediate
School for HIKI NŌ. ‎ Here’s another story about people stepping
up to help those in need, this time from students at Ᾱliamanu ‎
Middle School on Oʻahu. ‎ Hygiene is a very important part of life. However, not everyone has access to the luxury
of hygiene ‎ products. A survey done by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser
in January of 2019 counted four thousand ‎ three hundred and eleven homeless people on
the island of O’ahu. The majority of these people don’t ‎
have the money to buy hygiene products. But at Ᾱliamanu Middle, two classes are
working together to ‎ do their part to address this issue. The seventh-grade leadership students, together
with the eighth-grade ‎ AVID students, organized a hygiene drive in
hopes to help the homeless by allowing students to donate ‎
hygiene products such as deodorant and laundry detergent. ‎ If you go downtown, you can see tons of homeless
people on the street, so hopefully you’d want to help ‎
them out by giving them luxuries that we take for granted every day that maybe they don’t
have. ‎ The idea was separately conceptualized by
students in both classes. In order to make sure supplies got to ‎
those in need, the students ended up partnering with Family Promise, an organization with
a mission to ‎ help homeless and low-income families achieve
sustainable independence with the help of community. ‎ Yeah, so Family Promise of Hawai’i is a non-profit
organization that deals with multiple aspects of just ‎
helping families out in need. So, one of the needs was, uh, their month,
was collecting hygiene products, ‎ so, that actually fell into line of what we
were trying to do, both the eighth-grade AVID class and the ‎
seventh-grade leadership class. ‎ The two classes’ partnership was born from
a coincidence as both classes just happened to come up with ‎
the same idea for a service project. ‎ Ms. Young actually contacted me and let me
know that her leadership class is doing the same thing so ‎
that both groups of students should work together. So, that’s kind of where the partnership started. So, ‎
they worked on the fliers together, they worked on the infomercials for it. ‎ There was still doubt about whether there
would be any donations at all. ‎ When it started, a lot of, uh, we had a lot
of doubt because we weren’t sure if we could top the can-‎
stacking competition and we wanted to hopefully get donations and then when we finished, we
did get ‎ donations, which was really exciting because
we didn’t go in thinking that we were going to get ‎
anything. ‎ They found that most things that were donated
were free products from hotels as opposed to things you ‎
might find around your home. The drive was still a great success for the
leadership class and helped ‎ students to make a change in their communities
while learning to be a leader. ‎ When we did our service project, um, it definitely
had a change on my perspective as seeing things in ‎
different ways. ‎ It gave me some time to actually see things
head on and give me some actual situations where I can use ‎
those leadership skills, so some actual life lessons. ‎ I think what was nice about it is that the
kids really got to work on and figure out solutions to problems ‎
of things that are in our community. ‎ So, in the end, it seems that everyone involved
benefited from the experience in making a difference in ‎
our community. This is Cammy Martinez from Ᾱliamanu Middle
School for HIKI NŌ.‎ We’re back here at ʻEwa Makai Middle School
in the city of ʻEwa Beach on the island of Oʻahu. ‎
Changing schools can be one of the toughest things to endure as a child. The Takai Transition Center ‎
was established at our school to help students feel welcomed to our community and island. This Center ‎
is named in honor of the late U.S. Representative Mark Takai. Welcoming students with an open heart, ‎
the Center provides guidance and assists students in making their first year at our school their
best. The ‎
Center also trains students, known as the Aloha Ambassadors, who help welcome the new
students and ‎ ensure everyone has a friend when they arrive
at our school. ‎ Our final story continues this show’s theme
of helping those in need and comes to us from the students ‎
of Kamehameha Schools Maui Middle School in Pukalani. ‎ Richard Chiasson, a former chef who once cooked
at restaurants, now uses his culinary talents to feed ‎
dozens of homeless people at a shelter in Maui. ‎ I retired two years ago because the job I
was working closed and they laid everybody off. ‎ Prior to his retirement, Mr. Chiasson learned
about how bad the homeless situation was, as an employee ‎
at a homeless shelter. ‎ I worked at the homeless shelter because there
was a job opening and it was casual at first. Like two ‎
days a week, maybe ten hours a week, and then eventually, people quit and they go, oh, you
want to ‎ work fulltime? I go, oh, gosh, I already get catering, and
Hope Chapel, I said, yeah, I think I can fit it in. ‎ But things got overwhelming. ‎ I worked there for five years until I got
burnt out. Yeah, you know, it was just uh, very, it was
very ‎ stressful at first. But then you get involved, because you get
different clients in there all the time. ‎ Though he once felt burnt out, Mr. Chiasson
found himself back at the shelter with the challenge of ‎
coordinating other volunteers through his church. ‎ My challenge would be getting people to come
in to help me prepare the food and to serve the food. ‎
They didn’t know what’s going on over there, so, it was just good…it’s a good experience
to have these ‎ people to come over to see what actually goes
on on Maui. So, when you feed these people and serve ‎
these people, they are so thankful, and a lot of people know me, so when I go down there,
they’re like, ‎ wow, you’re back. I said, I’m back with a team, not just me. ‎ Mr. Chiasson came a long way to make Maui
his home. ‎ I’m from Maine, originally. I moved to Maui back in 1980. My brother, um, moved here in ’78 with his
‎ family, and he called me and said, why don’t
you, um, probably come to Maui. I said, Oh yeah, I’ll ‎
check it out. So, I came over here and stayed. I would like people to remember me as, uh,
somebody that ‎ does good for the community, helping people
at the homeless shelter, or just helping anybody that needs ‎
food, and setting up food, and helping the churches. That’s what I would like to do. ‎ With the compassion for the homeless and needy,
and the devotion to the people of Hawaiʻi, Mr. ‎
Chiasson plans to continue to serve his community. This is Evalani Keawekane from Kamehameha
‎ Schools Maui for HIKI NŌ. ‎ Welcome back! Looks like we’re at the end of this episode.‎ Don’t forget, all of the stories you see here
were created, shot and edited by students like us. ‎ We hope the stories we’ve told were just as
fun to watch as they were to make. ‎ Join us next week to see what Hawaiʻi’s future
storytellers HIKI NŌ. ‎ Can do! ‎ ‎[END]‎ ‎ ‎ HIKI NO 1111.mp3‎ Page 1 of 1‎

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