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Friday, October 27, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Friday, Oct. 27, 2023

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
    Ramona Okumura and colleague, Dr. Barbara Zind, became trapped in Gaza when the war broke out between Israel and Hamas.
    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.

    The family statement shares Ramona's messages by text when she has service. "Ramona herself has spoken movingly of how local drivers have risked their lives to shuttle them between compounds, while rockets are fired around them, without any cover." Ramona said, “Despite everything, the locals risk their lives to meet our needs at every step of the way.”
    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."
    The family continues to amplify Ramona's message: "Contact and encourage the authorities to negotiate a ceasefire and safe passage to 'Bring Auntie Ramona Home,' and stop the blockade and siege of Gaza where one million children live."
    Ramona's story has been featured in The New York Times, News Nation, network television news, as well as Hawai'i and Seattle media.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

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
Goat Undercoating 5-8 years of age-Dusty Gorloff; and Calf Riding - Katum Malicki.
    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.
    Kane Wahine Ribbon Mugging winners are Paisley Menino Zayvin Menino.
    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.
    To donate to Kaʻū Roping & Riding, contact Kaapana at 808-854-7917.
Calf riding wrapped up the one day Fall Rodeo last Saturday just before sunset. Photo by Julia Neal

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

AS LADY TROJANS VOLLEYBALL TEAM GETS READY FOR THE BIG ISLAND'S HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH on Saturday, to be played against Hawai'i Preparatory Academy at Kamehameha School, 5 p.m., the coaches have released a statement.
    "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
    Head Coach Fujikawa said, "My learning curve as head coach came with a swift reality that success could only be achieved as a team. It was our responsibility as coaching staff to foster positive sportsmanship, acknowledge the value of discipline, provide opportunities to develop and strengthen skills, and goal setting. We continue to strive to maintain our focus and determination to bring that BIIF title back home to Kaʻū. Our opponent, HPA, is a great team and it will be a game no one would want to miss."           Regarding the win against Kohala on Thursday in the playoffs, Fujikawa said, "Whew! Kohala came out swinging. They always have great defense too! It was a reminder that we cannot deviate from our goal. Remain focused and determined to bring home that title. Our girls worked hard this entire season and we've got to stay alert and ready."
    Fujikawa explained why she wanted to become a coach. "A proud alumni of Kaʻū and Trojan Athlete of the Year in 2014, a true Trojan at heart, my goal has always been to serve within my community. I've
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. 
    I am blessed to take on the role of Head Coach. Fortunately, as the blessings continue to flow, Trojan Alumni Marley Nicolaisen, who was Trojan Athlete of the Year 2013, and Sandy Fujikawa Carvalho, who was Trojan Athlete of the Year 1987, and my Aunty and Uncle, David Carvalho, who was MIL Player of the Year 1986, showed up with their Trojan Pride of commitment to the school and community to assist our girls on this awesome journey."
    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."

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

BALANCING RECREATION AND CONSERVATION AT PŌHUE BAY, along the coast near Ocean View, is the story from Donovan Kastle, a nearby resident and journalism student at Kaʻū High. Here is his story:
    "Critically endangered animals rely on Pōhue Bay’s rich resources. Hawksbill turtles, the rarest sea turtle in the Pacific Ocean, honu (green sea turtles), and endangered monk seals" are found "along the sandy shoreline," states Trust for Public Land, which helped with the July, 2022 National Park Service acquisition of the 16,451 acres around Pōhue Bay.
    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
    Local residents state that they want to return to Pōhue Bay as soon as possible to fish, swim and go to the beach with their families. They ask whether, somehow, Volcanoes National Park could restore public access to Pōhue Bay soon while also maintaining the turtle nesting grounds and making sure people who visit the beach respect the land and don't disturb the wildlife.
    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.