Another year of support and success for Ke Kama Pono Safe House.
Recap of Program and Grant Goal:
The overarching goal of the Ke Kama Pono Safe House Program is to support, empower, and
equip adjudicated at-risk and homeless boys, ages 13 to 17, in a safe, nurturing environment built
on Native Hawaiian values. For the Nā ʻŌiwi Kāne Grant Fund of the Hawaiʻi Community
Foundation, the goal of the project was to expose these adjudicated young men to positive male
role models teaching sustainable hands-on activities that would promote civic engagement,
positive peer/mentor relationships and nurture their identities with the Native Hawaiian culture.
Objectives: Upon completion of the 2016 Nā ʻŌiwi Kāne Grant, adjudicated boys ages 13-17
Objective One: Learned or been exposed to different sustainable trades (aquaponics, carpentry,
masonry, culinary arts, electrical, and natural farming) through Native Hawaiian male mentors
from the Waiʻanae Community;
Objective Two: Developed an appreciation for the Native Hawaiian culture through a series of
cultural workshops, hands-on activities, and weekly field trips to a sustainable lo‘i in Kāne‘ohe;
Objective Three: Increased their resiliency in order to positively reintegrate back to their homes
Objective One (Sustainable Trades):
Carpentry/Masonry: Residents participated 5 - 7 hours a week learning how to safely use tools
and materials to complete projects such as a Wood Plant Display, Wood laminate flooring,
Drywall repair, and a concrete sidewalk for a local church. At the Safehouse, one of the main
walls in the dining area was prepped so that a full-wall world map could be installed for
educational purposes. Residents learned how to fill holes, sand, and paint the drywall, then apply
the sticky-back cloth segments directly to the drywall. In addition, residents also helped install
clear Plexiglas sheets over the map to protect it from dirt, grease, etc.
Natural Farming: KKP residents did their weekly visits to Mountain View Dairy to be
mentored by Mr. Wong and his crew with Natural Farming methods. Residents and staff spent 4
to 5 hours at the Dairy working and learning about the ongoing trend of Natural Farming.
Residents continue to successfully grow vegetable and fruit crops such as eggplant, carrots, corn,
squash, bananas, melons, and papaya. The residents also assist the mentors with the raising of
pigs naturally to provide nutritious food for the dinner table. This development process uses no
chemical or plant-based (organic) pesticides, but rather uses natural organic products and
applications to rejuvenate the soil and microbes, producing healthier crops and animals. The
bounty that was produced was taken back to KKP for meals as well as allowed the residents to
provide an occasional take-home basket of produce and eggs for their families during monthly
parent night meetings.
Culinary Arts: Residents continued to learn the valuable life skills of planning and preparing
nutritious meals by working with a mentor on-site during the summer months of June through
August. An instructor/caterer affiliated with Kapolei High School volunteered his time twice
each week to teach and incorporate the value of each food group, then demonstrated how to
produce good-tasting dishes with little or no meat and no canned products. Safe House staff also
continued to work with the mentor to help residents plan the weekly menus. The residents
realized the value of planning ahead and using food items that were available from the FoodBank
and the Dairy. These resources helped to offset the cost of purchasing food from markets.
Ke Kama Pono currently has two aquaponics stations, each having the ability to raise domestic
tilapia and grow various vegetables. Currently there are approximately two dozen fish in each
holding tank and vegetables such as kalo, green onion, Thai basil, kale, and ti leaf plants growing
in the beds. Residents are responsible to feed the fish daily and remove the nutrient-rich water, to
water the banana plants and the grass in the yard. Solar panels to power the aquaponics pumps
have not been installed yet, however we are planning to have it done in 2017. Our goal is to
teach the residents another form of using alternative energy sources to keep these systems
Objective Two (Cultural Activities):
At Ke Kama Pono, the Native Hawaiian culture is woven into strength-based mentoring
activities. As a result of funding provided by NOK, KKP residents participated in cultural events
and workshops that included imu (traditional in-the-ground oven), lo‘i (taro patch farming), he‘e
nalu (wave riding), mahi‘ai (natural farming), and loko i‘a (fishpond) renovation. All cultural
events were conducted off-site and many times involved cross-fertilization or collaboration with
other Native Hawaiian organizations.
Certain cultural programs, like loʻi maintenance and mahi‘ai tending, are weekly programs
which provide year-round learning. Residents are given repetitious hands-on lessons that result
in a deeper knowledge of natural farming and taro planting that is retained long after they leave
Prior to engaging in any part of our Imu workshops, each resident must take a Pre-Test to
determine what his knowledge is regarding this cultural activity. The resident will then do a
follow-up Post-Test two weeks later to evaluate what was learned and retained from his
experience. The luxury of having residents in the program for a minimum of six months is that
each one will participate in more than one imu workshop during his residency. Five imu
workshops in 2016 were instrumental in allowing KKP residents the opportunity to participate in
an every-step-of-the-way learning experience with seasoned Cultural Specialist, Aaron Mahi of
Partners In Development Foundation. The workshops all began with explanations of different
protocol needed in asking for permission to begin the imu, for the gathering of imu stones, and
also for the gathering of ti leaves, banana stumps, and banana leaves. Learning also came in the
mechanics of cutting kiawe wood, selecting the proper type of porous stone, knowing how to
mash banana stumps, and knowing how to prepare the pig for the imu. (Due to health
regulations, KKP uses pigs that are cleaned and gutted by a USDA-inspected slaughterhouse.)
Prepping the pig involved scoring the thick skin in several places, clearing out the cavity of any
foreign items, applying pa‘akai (Hawaiian salt), and wrapping the entire pig in chicken wire.
Opening the imu the next day was also a positive teaching moment, as the residents removed the
fully-cooked pig with care and then carefully returned the stones to its proper place under the
nearby trees. Each resident received a close-up, personal experience they will hopefully
remember for the rest of their life. Imu workshops, like all other cultural activities, are laborintensive
but interwoven with rich cultural values. Much more than merely hearing PIDF’s five
core values, each resident is required to display Aloha, Lōkahi, Mālama, Po‘okela, and Pono
while he is “doing” the imu workshop.
The goal of promoting Objective Two in the program gives each KKP resident the opportunity to
absorb what was taught for himself, and then once he has mastered each activity, he can teach
the culture and its values to others, perpetuating the “Learn It, Live It” principle. The results of
the resident’s pre- and post-tests showed an average percent increase in knowledge retained to be
at 35% or greater, indicating positive retention of the teachings of KKP’s Imu Workshops. A
copy of the quiz is attached.
Objective Three (Increased Resiliency):
Through NOK funding, KKP residents were able to participate in a number of community
service projects throughout 2016, which were geared to teach them resiliency. Many projects
involved giving of the residents’ time and energy, doing work in an attempt to help others who
don’t have the manpower to complete such tasks. In other situations, the residents made
sandwiches for the homeless people living near the Wai‘anae Boat Harbor, and then passed it out
to teach them servanthood. Once again in 2016 during the weekly Surfriders Spirit Sessions
Program in Waikīkī, KKP residents taught autistic youth how to surf, as well as walked side-byside
with them cleaning the beach area of litter and cigarette butts. The residents also volunteered
time and energy every week feeding pigs at the Mountain View Dairy in Wai‘anae, and helped
clear the land in an Ahuimanu subdivision which was overgrown with invasive trees and tall
grass in December. The learning lesson here was to teach the residents that Christmas isn’t only
about purchasing gifts, but sometimes the better gift is to do something “nice” for people with
your hands. The philosophy of the program is to build resiliency for the residents by instilling in
them a heart that is ready to serve.
In-depth discussions takes place after each community service event. The residents shared with
staff what it was like to serve the less fortunate, and what it was like to see the smiles on
people’s faces after the work was finished. The goal is to have the boys identify other things they
could do to better serve this population so they can translate this mentality into caring and giving
when they return home.
The Partners in Development Foundation program prides itself on innovative programs that
produce quantified measures of success. The Ke Kama Pono Program is the only OYS
adjudicated youth facility that has a parent participation rate greater than 90%, and for the
year 2016, our parent participation rate reached an all-time high of 96%.
Furthermore, a prime measure of success for an adjudicated youth program is its recidivism rate.
The Pew Charitable Trusts released findings in July 2014 of data from the Hawai‘i Youth
Correctional Facility (HYCF). The data tracked youth released from HYCF in 2005 to 2007. The
outcomes of the youth were tracked for up to three years. The recidivism rate was calculated to
be at 75%, as they specifically tracked re-adjudication or convictions as adults.
The national recidivism rate according to the Justice Policy Institute (concludes that overall
juvenile recidivism rates vary between 50% to 70% within two years of release from a residential
program. For the year 2016, the recidivism rate for the Ke Kama Pono Safe House was 24%
(8 of 34 participants). This rate is by far, the best in the State of Hawaiʻi.
The Ke Kama Pono staff is dedicated to the success of the program’s former residents also. This
is evident by the fact that Ke Kama Pono staff track former residents for 3 years after they leave
the program. These six-month “check-ins” provide support, guidance and the feeling of “aloha”
for the former Safe House residents and their parents.
Partners in Development Foundation is grateful for the financial support of the Nā ʻŌ iwi Kāne
Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation in contributing to this mentoring program with a
proven track record of success with at-risk male teens.