|Ramona Okumura's neice Erika and Ramona's brothers Miles Okumura, of Honoka'a, and Glenn Okumura, of Pāhala, march in|
the Honoka'a Peace Parade with a banner urging, "Bring Auntie Ramona Home." Photo from the Okumura family
TRAPPED IN GAZA, RAMONA OKUMURA, SISTER OF GLENN OKUMURA, OF PĀHALA, is receiving much support from the local community on this island and beyond. Glenn, family and friends marched in the Honoka'a Peace Parade last weekend with a banner urging "'Bring Auntie Ramona Home." Glenn, an active member of O Kaʻū Kakou and Pahala Hongwanji, joined his brother, Miles, who is chair of the Honoka'a Peace Parade, sponsored by Honoka'a Hongwanji.
Glenn said his sister, 71, has spent much time in Kaʻū, their mother living her last days in Pāhala, and Glenn has owned a home here for almost 30 years. He said that Ramona has always come to get away and enjoy the quiet Kaʻū, friends and family.
More recently, Ramona Okumura has also spent time each year in Gaza, where she is a volunteer, helping to make prosthetics, simply and affordably to replace the personal damage of accidents, and violence. Since 2017, Okumura has volunteered for the USA-based Palestine Children’s Relief Fund’s Gaza Amputee Project, following a 27-year career in prosthetics at University of Washington where she also served as a lecturer in prosthetics.
Her brother Glenn said on Friday that she remains trapped in Gaza at a UN shelter near the Rafah border crossing to Egypt. Glenn and his son Michael Okumoto, text her from Hawai'i to keep her up to date on weather reports for Gaza to help her keep track of potential rainfall, since she and other evacuees are sleeping outside.
|Ramona Okumura, sister of Glenn Okumura, of Pahala, helps make affordable|
prosthetics for Palestinian young people who lost limbs to violence.
Photo from Palestinian Children's Relief Fund Gaza Amputee Project
Okumura family members have flown to Washington D.C. and met with Hawai'i Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz. as well as Congresswoman Jill Tokuda. Fifty-six members of Congress signed a statement saying, "we urge those carrying out military operations to follow international humanitarian law and protect innocent civilian lives on both sides." Thirty-six U.S. Senators signed a statement calling for "the swift implementation of sustained access for humanitarian aid, including water and medical supplies, to save civilian lives in Gaza.”
A statement from the Okumura family says that "American aid worker Ramona Okumura continues to be trapped in Gaza along with 45 other aid workers, an estimated 500-600 Americans, and countless civilians who have been unable to escape the violence and increased pressure at the Rafah border to Egypt."
The Okumura family is not only pressing for their Auntie's release but also for relief to Gaza people. On Capitol Hill, Ramona Okumura's neice Leah Okumura and nephew Nicholas Pang joined founder of Palestinian Children's Relief Fund, Steve Sosebee. They presented a plea for a "ceasefire and humanitarian corridor for safe passage out of Gaza with military support if needed, and also to allow this border opening to deliver aid into Gaza to service civilians she has seen fleeing their homes that have been lost to bombings."
The Okumura family statement says, "Evacuees like Ramona are increasingly in danger as fuel, food, and water supplies decline, and they report hearing rockets fire within five miles of their location. Aid groups have warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe due to Israel’s invasion into Gaza." It says that her family has repeatedly been disappointed by failed attempts at opening the Rafah border to Egypt, with Hamas, Egyptian and Israeli authorities unable to come to terms.
She has also reported that she and her colleagues are currently safe at a U.N. shelter. Many, including Ramona, sleep outside in cars, or on the pavement outside, and many evacuees have pulled debris such as pallets and metal poles to create temporary camp structures. The family statement says, "Despite being in imminent danger, Ramona remains stalwart in her mission to help the citizens of Gaza and Okumura’s family is holding out hope that she will be able to escape, despite no concrete updates about the border situation changing."
Ramona's story has been featured in The New York Times, News Nation, network television news, as well as Hawai'i and Seattle media.
|Fall Rodeo: Kaʻū Roping & Riding offers events for all ages, from keiki to wahine, kane and kupuna. Photo by Julia Neal|
WINNERS OF KAʻŪ ROPING & RIDING FALL RODEO have been announced by organizer Tammy Kaapana. The one day event was held last Saturday, Oct. 21 at Nāʻālehu Rodeo Grounds, with three events going on in the center of the village - the rodeo, the Coffee Tea & Water Expo and concert, and hula and music at Keola Pu'uhonua grounds across the street adjacent to Punalu'u Bake Shop.
Here are the winning names for the rodeo events released by Kaʻū Roping & Riding:
Dummy Roping 4 & Under - Elle-Mae Jose; Dummy Roping 5-8 years of age - Whip Stevens; Goat Undecorating 4 & under- Elle-Mae Jose;
|The one day rodeo was a rapid fire of contestants and steers coming|
out of the gates. Photo by Julia Neal
Youth Barrels winner is Chesni Aku.
Po'owai'u winner is Westin Joseph.
Kane Wahine Breakaway winners are Paisley Menino and Gregg Menino.
Double Mugging winners are Boots Kaapana and Mauka Balucan.
Wahine Mugging winners are Kiya Hernandez and Lorilee Lorenzo.
Open Dally Team Roping winners are Danny Joseph and Gilbert Smith.
Kane Wahine Dally Roping winners are Kevin Hill and Addie Flores.
Century Team Roping winners are Gilbert Smith and Allen Gomes.
|Calf riding wrapped up the one day Fall Rodeo last Saturday just before sunset. Photo by Julia Neal|
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"Trojan strong comes back stronger than ever. It was in 2012 that the Trojans brought home their 1st BIIF Championship," said current Head Coach Kamalani Fujikawa and Assistant Coach Marley Strand Nicolaisen, who were on that winning team. "As alumni players of 2012 and now first year coaches, we are energized as a team to bring that BIIF title back to Kaʻū. These young student athletes come prepared and diligently attend practice. On the court, these Trojans bring their positive attitude, encouragement toward one another, and competitive physical agility."
|Head Coach Kamalani Fujikawa (center) plans to bring back the island |
championship to Kaʻū with the final match on Saturday against
Hawai'i Preparatory Academy. Photo by Julia Neal
|Kaʻū slams Kohala in playoff match Thursday.|
Photo by Brenda Iokepa Moses
asked myself more often than I'd like to admit, 'What can I offer?'
"As I strive to remain true to my goal, I enrolled in a State Approved Teacher Program to be able to teach the youth of Kaʻū. Similarly, like students, I engaged myself in extracurricular activities with these student athletes here at Kaʻū.
The Head Coach praised the fans. "Shout out to our Kaʻū strong community, the sea of maroon in the stands that supports us in every way, especially at all of our games at home or away with their shouts of cheer, praise, and encouragement. Mahalo kakou."
At Pōhue Bay, long before it became part of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park - back in 2005, the Turtle Project counted 2,450 honu'ea hatchlings making it to the ocean. In 2006, 12 mama turtles were documented laying eggs. With 36 nests, about 4,300 baby hawksbills hatched. Pōhue Bay remains one of the most productive beaches on the island when it comes to honu`ea.
While planning for the management of the newly preserved lands, the National Park Service has temporarily suspended public access to Pōhue as it considers its protection, balanced with recreational use.
|Baby honu'ea, the hawksbill, rarest sea turtle in the Pacific,|
are highly productive at Pōhue Bay where honu'ea nest.
Photo from Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
If Volcanoes National Park were to restore public access to vehicles, there would have to be quite a bit of work put into the area surrounding the bay. Without a paved, maintained road, only four wheel drive vehicles and hikers would be able to get to the bay. Any road construction could disturb the wildlife and sites with cultural significance to the people of Hawai'i. These could include burials and the petroglyphs that are located in the Pōhue area. In the past, these types of sites have been destroyed by road construction and development in other places.
At Pōhue, building roads and other infrastructure such as parking lots and restrooms could be very costly. The upside is that it could create a number of jobs that are close by to residents and that local residents would have easy access to Pōhue's white sand beach. The question is how to balance recreation and conservation as the National Park moves further into Kaʻū.
Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park reports that that "hawksbill turtles nest only on the beaches of the main Hawaiian Islands, primarily along the southern coast of Hawai’i Island. Without human help, the honu‘ea will likely disappear forever this century. But there is hope. Since 1989, the Hawai'i Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project has been tirelessly working to help honu‘ea recover. More than 500 volunteers have located and protected 700 nests and helped 80,000 hatchlings reach the sea. Your help is crucial to these turtles’ survival." See https://www.fhvnp.org/product/turtle-donation/#:~:text=Since%201989%2C%20the%20Hawai'i,crucial%20to%20these%20turtles'%20survival.