Statistics of Homeless Children in Hawai'i
The sad fact is that our islands are poverty stricken! Our homeless children of Hawai'i live without running water and electricity, let alone daily meals. Living in cars, tents and bushes. The AVERAGE age of a homeless person is the tender age of 5. Yes, 5 years old. To escape this cycle, they need resources that TEACH them the skills needed.
Not unlike a third-world country, our children are facing the same dilemma right here in Hawai'i. Thousands of children live without a roof over their head!!! Eating off the streets, getting diseases from lack of hygiene, and falling through the cracks of education.
Until our priorities are focused here in the states or at least here on our very islands, these children will not be able to escape their cycle of poverty. Awareness needs to be brought to those who don't see the crisis we face here. Imagine if just ONE celebrity or multi-million dollar corporation kept their donation here in America, the changes that could be made. Just something to think about before we extend yet another helping hand across the world.
What I see daily...well that is when I am not hiding from it all at home....
I see children in diapers eating out of gutters, I see children running around naked in filth eating what I assume is a leftover from the dog scraps. I see children who are not developing and just wandering blankly through life....hoping that someone will just feed them, or bring them a bandaid. I see the community blaming the drugged out parent. I hear people making excuses for not helping, putting it on God, or even worse, saying they gave a church. I feel the pain of these children when I greet them. I hear their tears when I play with them. I don't see happy faces or happy hearts.
I see children with no idea what HOPE for a better life is...they wouldn't even have a dream of what it would be like not to sleep in the dirt, or have a bubble bath, be read a bedtime story or be tucked safely in bed....
That is what I see on our islands of poverty.
Poverty on Our Islands
Homelessness is a cycle mostly caused by lack of basic education and life skills. Most of our parents cannot read or write well enough to fill out an application. Leaving 70% of our keiki reading below grade level, and not being taugt basic life skills.
Many people take for granted the ability to grow with proper life skills and exposure to simple processes of life. These children do not, and it does play a HUGE part in the cycle of homelessness.
Since Senate Bill 1093, written by Hawai'i Governor Neil Ambercrombie, was enacted for the 2014/2015 school year that raised the minimum age to be 5 by July 31st for a child to be eligible to enter kindergarten, many more of OUR homeless children now spend one more year in the bush, lacking basic life and social skills. This places our keiki severely behind in their educational development. Resulting in even less desire to continue their educational journey. While this might not seem so important to those who have daily basic skills living in a "regular" home, I assure you it is!!
Here is an example of one of my 4 year old boys living in the bushes...
He barely communicates with an understandable word, he is never dressed, lacks supervision or a routine. He is the oldest of 3, so really he has no one to follow other than his drugged out mother and a father who is in and out of prison. Neither parent can communicate well, nor have the skills to even provide simple daily life needs for these children....I know they shouldn't be allowed to grow like this, but in Hawai'i it is NOT a "Crime", it is just the way it is......
While this boy will be able to go to school when he turns almost 6, he will NOT know the alphabet, colors, shapes, or even the basics of listening to a book being read. While some people don't feel that watching t.v. is the best solutions for children, at least if these children had t.v., they would have an experience listening to a conversation, or a knowledge of something outside of the poverty they know.
Another example of how a lack of simple basic life skills plays a role in never being able to escape poverty without intervention:
Picture a two year old boy waking himself up early in the morning without any supervision. While his parent sleeps in, this child walks around with an all-night diaper seeking for anything to fill his tummy. As the parent eventually awakes, this child will not go through a routine of being dressed, brushing his teeth, sitting down for a meal, having an interactive game played. Rather he will run around on his own, parent will probably yell at him for random acts he is unaware of, and eventually this child will turn 6 and be introduced to "real" life in a "real" classroom, end up in special ed, then a "daycare" class, eventually finding his way to jail, or worse....so, this cycle has got to stop for change to start. Project Hawai'i, Inc. does this one small step at a time.
1 in 3 keiki statewide go hungry on a daily basis.
That is 40% of our children statewide!!
Our agency provides meal support to those who live in Homeless (unsheltered) situations, children without proper nutrition, without access to healthy meals, without proper food storage...so basically those without a daily plan to access a food supply.
Over 1,600 keiki UNDER the age of 5 live in this poverty. On the Big Island 90% of our Public schools have over 75% of their keiki on FREE or Reduced lunch program, meaning without school based meals, they go without!
Help Feed Homeless Children in Hawai'i