Malama Loko Ea Reflections

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Last September 15th, 2018, I went on a community service program together with my friends at the Malama Loko e’ a fishpond in North Shore, Hawaii. It was the first community service I have done in that area. We have chosen the place because we just want to go North Shore, especially me who has never been there. The only problem that we had was the mode of transportation, but we discussed it later. We all listened to each other speak about their thoughts about this task and we got to the point of intersection. Since I have never been to North Shore, I was so excited and a bit nervous at the same time. I got to go there by myself and the whole trip on the way there felt so amazing. I woke up early in the morning to catch the bus.

It took two hours to get there but those two hours were one of the most magnificent moments of my life. I have got to see a whole new side of Hawaii different from what I have been seeing. Instead of tall buildings, I saw plantations and mountain ranges. It was my first time seeing a mountain that looked like knuckles and it was explicitly gorgeous. We all met in the area and went together to the fishpond. Before the activity started, we have done some small introductions and one of the heads of the area talked about a brief history of the pond. The Loko e‘a is a 400-year old Hawaiian fishpond. I learnt that the pond is self-sustaining and can maintain fish stocks if well managed. This reflects the art of Native Hawaiian resource management practices. The mission of the foundation is to perpetuate the Native Hawaiian culture through education, land stewardship, and community building, while sustainably restoring our precious natural resources. On the other hand, their vision statement is to connect the present to the past. The purpose of this foundation is to restore ea. Ea has many translations including independence, life, air, or breath. It can also be looked at as a verb that means “to rise up” or “to smell”.

The fishpond serves as a home to numerous aquatic species like Ahole, Ama’ama, ‘O‘opu Naniha which are all indigenous to Hawaii. This is one of the reasons why the foundation has been working hard to restore and improve the pond. After the brief talk, we were split into separate groups. We went to the part where there is a lot of weeds. We were given gloves and tools then we started working. I noticed that we all have the same working style which is execute. We just did what we were told and pulled out all the weeds. While we were doing the work, we got a chance to talk to Sayo Costantino, the Kupuohi Education Program Director. She has been serving the foundation for over 10 years. She said that the removal of invasive grass species is important in reopening the waterways and allowing the native vegetation to thrive. That is when I realized how important our duty is in restoring the balance in the ecosystem of the area. By pulling out these weeds, we are not just helping the native plants grow, we are helping the marine species of Waialua bay which relies on these natural food sources.

To conclude, my experiences in this community service made me realized how important our aina is. The littles things that we did like pulling out the weeds have a significant effect in maintaining the balance in the ecosystem of the fishpond. Also, I have so much respect to the staff of the foundation who has been working hard to restore and improve the area. Their passion and dedication to their work astonish me. As an aspiring health professional, I would like to have that same amount of passion and dedication. I am looking forward to more community service programs and I hope next time, I would be able to work in a medical type of service.

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