Filipinos spearhead volcano relief efforts in Hawaii
PAHOA, HI — Thousands of residents continue to be evacuated as the volcano threat continues, fissures have continued opening, and air quality has worsened in some parts of Puna.
Despite the dangers throughout the Big Island, the Aloha spirit is not shaken by volcanoes or earthquakes.
Filipinos have been coming together to help those displaced by the volcanic eruptions.
One effort has been spearheaded by a couple of Fil-Ams in the area.
Pinay Ashley Kierkiewicz helped start the Pu’uhonua o Puna, shortly after the first volcanic eruption.
“In times of distress and trauma, the community really just pulls in together to take care of each other,” said Kierkiewicz.
Among the stacks of goods, children can be seen coming together, while evacuees themselves volunteer at the site, located just beyond the checkpoint that leads into the affected areas.
“Everything the you see here is a result of people’s kindness and generosity. We’re 100% community driven and funded.”
Every day, their Facebook page announces what the center needs, as well as verified accounts of displaced families’ GoFundMe accounts.
But they’ve also been alert. With their proximity close to the eruptions, they’re ready to move at any moment.
About 20 miles north, at this local store in Hilo, donations have been coming in. The Keaukaha General Store’s Aristotle Sacramento is ready do his part.
He knows what it’s like to live near natural disasters, witnessing typhoons growing up in the Philippines, he also got a firsthand look at last year’s California wildfire damage living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Natural disasters you just can’t do anything too much about, but stay positive, get together, and be one.”
Since the eruptions began, the store has been piling up with goods and donations from locals.
While their location is on safer ground, they’re not immune from the possibility of projectiles, and the poor air quality, but — it won’t stop them from taking in items seven days a week.
A few more days, weeks or months — there’s no telling how much longer the volcanic activity will continue. But no matter the circumstances, the community in Hawaii continues to show its resiliency and the Aloha spirit.