Monday, September 23, 2013

Risking Connection with Hawaian Values

I am very proud to be associated with the creation of a Risking Connection adaptation utilizing native Hawaiian values. This was created through a grant given to Child and Family Services in Hawaii. The main creator is Joey McKeagne, MSW, who consulted with various Hawaiian Cultural Experts. these experts attended the training and said that it was already compatible, and gave advice about bridging to Hawaiian concepts and ideas. We did the first training on the current iteration this past week, and it was very well received.

One way of integrating Hawaiian values is through proverbs. I will share some of them here:
"Mohala i ka wai ka maka o ka pua."
Unfolded by the water are the faces of the flower…
~’Olelo No’eau

 Explanation: Flowers thrive where there is water, as thriving people are found where living conditions are good….

After break we will discuss this concept in more detail using the trauma framework. We will begin to discover how we are impacted by trauma in our lives. Imagine water to be the life source of all positive influence in our life. What happens when an individual grows up without these positive experiences? When you remove the positive influence in someone’s life they have difficulty thriving, often this comes from traumatic events in their lives.

I kahi ‘e no ke kumu mokihana,  paoa ‘e no one ‘i i ke ‘ala."
Although the mokihana tree is at a distance, its fragrance reaches here…
~’Olelo No’eau (2178)

This Hawaiian proverb speaks to one of our self capacities ….having an inner connection to others.

 “Hahai no ka ua i ka ulua’au.”
The rain always follows the forest…
~’Olelo No’eau

 The thought behind this Hawaiian proverb is: Destroy the forest, the rains will cease to fall, and the land will become a desert.

We must be the forest (people) that produces the rain (positiveness) that grows the flowers (clients) and help them flourish.

But if we do not pay attention to our needs, we could fall barren within ourselves (feel like nothing is left to give) and our work will suffer, thus our clients and communities suffer along with us.

A’ole e ku ka ikaika i keia pakela nui; ke po’ai mai nei ka ‘ohu ma uka, ma kai, ma ‘o a ma’ane’i.
One cannot show his strength against such odds; the rain clouds are circling form the upland, the lowland, and from all sides…
~┼îlelo No‘eau 223

 Said by Maheleana, a warrior of Kuali’I, when he saw his small company surrounded by the enemy.

When faced with a lifetime of adversity, it becomes overwhelming and almost impossible to face our struggles alone. With the help of supportive others and through a therapeutic alliance, we can bridge a safe and nurturing environment for our clients to work through the things that are negatively impacting their lives.

“E lawe i ke a’o a malama, a e ‘oi mau ka na’auao.”
He who takes his teachings and applies them increases his knowledge.
~ Olelo No’eau

This proveb relates to strengthening self capacities or feeling skills. Think about this proverb as we move along through the next section.
What is needed in all of us to apply the knowledge that we are given?
Sometimes it takes more than just receiving the knowledge. Because we must have the capacity within us to apply the knowledge as well.

The picture we see here is of a young child learning to pound poi. Knowledge is passed from older generations. Verbal instructions and hands on practice together built skills and capacity within the learner to gain the experience needed to do it on their own. With practice and time this child will become skilled at this task and manage it on his own. Similar is this to how we must strengthen our self capacity and feeling skills.

“He po’i na kai uli, kai ko’o, ‘a’ohe hina puko’a.”
Though the sea be deep and rough, the coral rock remains standing..
~’Olelo No’eau 905

It is when we are in the middle of a crisis that we must have keen awareness, a calm demeanor, and stand strong against the “rough seas” of the crisis at hand.

“I hele i kauhale, pa’a pu’olo i ka lima.”
In going to the house of others, carry a package in the hand.
~ Olelo No’eau 1157
Meaning: Take a gift with you….
Our work impacts us. We see so many overwhelming and often times traumatizing events in the work we do. At the same time each of us has unique gifts we offer others. When we get up each morning we take with us our gifts and sometimes they may get buried under the stress or burdens we carry. If we hold too much stress or burdens we can forget our gifts at home!

When we are overwhelmed and experiencing VT it is necessary to take pause and account for our gifts and remind ourselves that we do what we do because we are there to make a difference. Often it is these thoughts that bring us back the next day after a difficult days work. We remind ourselves that we are needed.

So remember your gifts and don’t forget them at home. It is when we realize we are going through the motions of life without sharing our special gifts that we need to be talking about it, so we can resolve the conflicts we may be encountering.

"Ho’okolo aku i ka nui manu."
Go inquire of the other birds.
‘┼îlelo No‘eau (1086)

Story of “Elepaio and the man in the mountain:

One day a man went up to a mountain spring for water. On the way down he paued to rest, then fell asleep. An ‘elepaio (type of bird) lighted and, seeing the man’s gourd bottle, pecked a hole in the gourd. The sound of pecking woke the man, who saw the water running out. In anger he threw a stone at the ‘elepaio and injured its leg. It flew away and met an ‘io (another type of bird).

            “O! ‘Io, I was stoned by a man,” ‘Elepaio cried.  

            “What did you do?” asked “Io.

            “Pecked the man’s bottle.”

            “Then the fault is yours,” answered ‘Io.

‘Elepaio flew on and met Pueo (owl). The same words were exchanged between them. So it was with the “I’iwi (another type of bird), ‘O’o (yet another bird), and all the others. “elepaio’s disgust grew greater with ‘Amakihi (and yes…another type of bird) who laughed at him in mockery.

Receiving no sympathy, ‘Elepaio sat and thought and finally admitted to himself that he, indeed, was to blame.”

Lesson of story: Although in our work we are not always to blame for the outcomes of situations, we do have responsibility to accept our feelings and actions as impact on the work we do. When we return from break we will begin to discuss how our reactions can become problematic and what we can do about it.

Another morale of this story is: to consult with others when you cannot understand the situation.



“‘Umia ka hanu! Ho’oahi ka umauma ke kipo’ohiwi i ke kip’ohiwi.”
Hold the breath! Walk abreast, should to shoulder.
~’Olelo No’eau 2876
Be of one accord, as in exerting every effort to lift a heavy weight to the shoulder and to keep together in carrying it along.     
As an organization we are always striving to live by the words of this proverb. How can we “Be of one accord” so that none of us feel as if we carry the load by ourselves. We must think about how we can do this better as an organization.

I think that this effort is effort is very important for Hawaii. It can also serve as a model and an inspiration for other areas that work with native populations with rich heritages..


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