It is a common question I am asked, "Where are the homeless children in Hawai'i". or even more a statement, "I didn't know there were homeless children in Hawai'i"! Homelessness is definitely not what one thinks when the vision their Hawaiian vacation, or their amazing move across the Pacific to a better lifestyle. Depending on that area of which you live on these beautiful tropical islands will also blur your vision of the homeless crisis we face. Being number one, yes #1 in the nation for the MOST homeless children living in the streets of America is just another invisible challenge our state faces.
Many of us see the signs of homeless along the beaches or in the mountains, perhaps in the parking lots or along the sidewalk, but many don't see the children who live in these structures. Many do not realize that thousands of children are living in extreme poverty and hidden away. Babies being born on the beaches, or in the mountains and never registered for a birth certificate. Children being raised in situations without basic structure of a family or even a place to call home.
Babies do not get to choose the families they are born into. Children born into poor and homeless families have far fewer opportunities in life than children born into families with sufficient financial means. Without options for safe, affordable housing with wrap around services – like those offered through HUD/Section 8, or other programs our state severally lacks – it will be too difficult for children to overcome the many injustices and traumatic experiences they have encountered in their short lives. Statistically these children will continue the cycle of growing up to be homeless and having children of their own before reaching adulthood.
The average age of a homeless PERSON in Hawai'i is AGE 9!
These children live in the shadows, many won't even go to school, many won't be placed into any social or societal situations until they are in their later childhood ages. They are hidden, they are forgotten and sometimes never found until it is far too late to make an impact on their precious lives. These children are being "watched" , I won't say raised, but they are being supervised by an adult figure which is also stuck in the cycle of poverty, homelessness, and forgotten. When a child is raised in this environment they do not have access to basic life skills or social skills. Without the intervention of a program that truly cares, these children will continue to be forgotten.
This is what Project Hawai’i, Inc. does. This is who we are! We have the experience it takes to make the change and help the children end this cycle.
We find the children, hidden in the bushes, traveling day after day across the islands to avoid the conflict of being homeless, those hidden in the hills and the caves. Our dedicated team finds these children, accesses their situations and finds their needs. We find the PROBLEM and create the solution for each child to succeed. We continue to provide our outreach services and build the trust and connection so we can continue with them through their journey to success.
Our programs provide the support they need to gain the life and social skills to do well in school. We have programs that help them develop their own leaderships skills that allow them to escape their cycle of poverty.
Project Hawai’i, Inc. has been on the islands since 2003, (almost 20 years). We have seen the success that come from FINDING these hidden children. We have been able to provide the supportive services they need to find their own way out of a tent, a car, and less than desirable living situation. We have been the advocate these children need to no longer live in the shadows. Our homeless children excel in school, they graduate and go to college, they change the path of which they were born. We break the cycle not only for the children, but for their future children.