One of our core values at Waiākea is to Live Aloha and a way that we practice this is through the work of our Kōkua Initiative. This year, we have set a goal to impact more than 60,000 people in need throughout the Hawaiian Islands. In January, we supported Keonepoko Elementary School, which was in need of slippers for students who arrived at school with no footwear.
The community on the Big Island graciously donated 40 pairs of slippers, and with a matching donation from Waiākea, plus an extra scoop of aloha, 100 pairs of slippers were donated to the school.
One of our newest partners in 2022 is Ma'i Movement Hawai'i.
Founded by two sisters from Waimanalo, Brandy-Lee and Nikki-Ann Yee, the mission of Ma'i Movement is to provide and distribute free menstrual products to those in need and advocate for systemic change in the government, schools and community to end period poverty in Hawai'i. The organization offers a Sustainable Ma'i program, the objective of which is to educate and provide youth with sustainable products and menstruation education to manage their period in a financially, environmentally and healthy way.
Tampons and pads are essential items, with the average period lasting anywhere from 3 - 7 days every month. With menstrual products having additional luxury taxes and insurance not covering any cost of these items each month, those expenses add up quickly. Some families already have a challenge putting quality food on the table for their families so this additional expense can be a burden for some.
“If I was put in the situation where I had to choose between food for my family and hygiene products, I would choose food over hygiene items in a second.” shares Geoli Ng, Director of the Kōkua Initiative at Waiākea. “Because of this it just made sense to partner with the Ma'i Movement in support of ending Period Poverty for all women who need access to suitable hygiene items to ensure better health and wellness.”
“Periods have been around since the beginning of time but COVID is pretty new. With free masks being distributed because it is deemed an essential item, why not give out hygiene products for periods? It too is an essential item that women have to deal with each month, with no choice of their own. I think this is something we can all get behind in the support of ending Period Poverty.”
To help support Ma'i Movement Hawai'i, join the Kōkua Initiative on February 5, 2022, when we are back in the community for our monthly Food Drive at KTA Puainako in Hilo. We will also be collecting donations to support The Food Basket here on the Big Island and will be joined by our partners from the Hilo Crescent City Lions along with volunteers from the Hawai'i Diaper Bank and Ma'i Movement Hawai'i.