KS Maui haumāna Anahera Tevaga and Hali‘a Casco-De Leon (both standing on right) hug KS Kapālama haumāna Avapui Ulufale and Liahona Taʻala on Thursday (Aug. 24) following the presentation of donations raised for KS Maui ‘ohana impacted by the wildfires.
Kamehameha Maui School juniors Anahera Tevaga and Hali‘a Casco-De Leon evacuated Lahaina and escaped the wildfires safely, but like many others, lost everything including their home.
“I only packed three pairs of clothes because we thought we would be able to come home the next day,” Casco-De Leon said. “We thought it would be out. We had to pack our dogs and other important stuff, but I didn’t have time to pack any of my important stuff.”
The two juniors are among a number of KS Maui haumāna and kumu who lost their homes and belongings to the wildfires that spread throughout Lahaina and Kula last month. Tevaga and Casco-Deleon said returning to school has been difficult, but their spirits were lifted by a visit from their sister school last week.
On Thursday (Aug. 24), the Associated Students of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama presented over $11,000 in donations raised for KS Maui ‘ohana directly impacted by the wildfires. ASKS Kapālama haumāna presented the funds to ASKS Maui as well as students impacted by the disaster at the Charles Reed Bishop Learning Center.
“It was pretty emotional,” said Tevaga, who was invited to attend the presentation. “A lot of parents have been helping us, but to hear that it was kids our age hustling to raise money for us – it’s really impressive how much money they raised. I’m really thankful for all that they’ve done because they didn’t have to. It means a lot to us.”
KS Maui senior Kailie Kalepa also attended the presentation and expressed gratitude for the donation. She said she was fortunate to keep her Lahaina home and did not have to escape the wildfires, like her two classmates.
“I wasn’t there to see what they both had to go through in evacuating and basically running away for their life,” said Kalepa, who was on the other side of the island at the time. “I’m very thankful to still have my home, but it’s been a lot of work.”
KS Maui students and their ‘ohana have been donating their own time and resources to recovery efforts. In the aftermath of the wildfires, Kalepa’s home transformed into a supply depot for the West Maui community. She worked nonstop with her father, Archie, to gather and distribute supplies, including gas, food and water to anyone in need.
She said the work and sight of her hometown has taken a toll on her mind and body.
“You see that your ʻāina is gone. The town is gone. The place you grew up in is gone,” Kalepa said. “Going through the town and seeing people dead…and you know that they’re your people…it just hurts to know that they had to die that way running away for their lives.”
Tevaga said her house was one of the first to be destroyed.
“I only grabbed my Mo‘o book, which is really important to me,” she said. “I thought I was going to go home, but I’m so thankful I saved it. I had one pair of clothes and a bottle of water, and no slippers. I went kanaka all the way. And saved my dogs because they would’ve been gone.”
Casco-De Leon said much of the clothes she wears is from one of her close friends at school. She said she was simply grateful to be out of the fires, but also grateful for the support from kumu, deans and behavioral health specialists.
The three māhele luna students said they feel guilty at times leaving their community and coming to school, while their family and others continue recovery efforts. However, they said they are proud of their tight-knit Lahaina community and check-in on each other at school.
“Being able to stand strong and stay together has been one of the most important things right now,” Kalepa said. “Us and what our family is doing by helping the community makes me really proud just because Lahaina isn’t just a town – it’s a family.
“Just knowing that everyone is trying to stand strong, thinking of positive things, and just being there for each other really helps.”
KS Kapālama haumāna are also standing strong with their sisters on Maui. Six ASKS Kapālama students made the trip to KS Maui to present the donation and also held protocol and made an offering at Kealia Beach for wildfire victims.
Six ASKSK students traveled to Maui to present donations raised for KS Maui ‘ohana impacted by the wildfires on Thursday (Aug. 24). They also held protocol and made an offering at Kealia Beach.
“It felt like we were meant to be there and that we were all connected,” ASKS Kapālama haumāna Kalamakahi Crabbe said. “Just meeting the students from Lahaina and giving the offering – you could feel the heaviness from their families. You could feel the hardships they were carrying for their families.”
ASKS Kapālama haumāna Avapui Ulufale said he was grateful to be a part of the student-led fundraising effort.
“I felt like it was a huge responsibility and everyone rose to the occasion, and I really appreciate all of the hands that came together to kōkua,” Ulufale said.
ASKS Maui president Caroline Sloper said witnessing the support from their sister campus on O‘ahu was heartening. KS Maui plans to begin the distribution of donated cash and gift cards next week.
“They were not only generous financially, but were generous on a personal level, calling and texting just to check in and see what they could do to help,” Sloper said. “All of their assistance is greatly appreciated, and we thank them for all they have done to help our KS ʻohana.”
KS Maui student activities coordinator Vanessa Ching noted that her counterpart at KS Kapālama, student leadership and activities coordinator Andrew Lai, has been working with her and her haumāna “from day one” in supporting them with their needs. She added that KS Kapālama parent relations coordinator Laurielei Waracka has helped collect school supplies, footwear, backpacks and uniforms for KS Maui haumāna.
“They were checking in on us daily,” Ching said. “Everyone was so kind and patient as the needs of the community evolved with our current reality and they delivered everything we needed along with their sincerest aloha.”
While mālama from their sister school has been appreciated, the three Lahaina haumāna credited the support of their KS ‘ohana, friends and family for motivating them to continue their education. They said they are still taking it day-by-day, but are proud of their community.
“I just think our lāhui is really strong right now,” Tevaga said. “They’re really pulling through. Just in any kind of support…way more than our government. We can just go to each other for help and can stay at each other’s house. I’m just really proud of the community we have.”
ASKS Maui and ASKS Kapālama students stand with KS Maui haumāna Anahera Tevaga, Hali‘a Casco-De Leon and Kailie Kalepa for a photo Thursday (Aug. 24) following the presentation of donations raised for KS Maui ‘ohana impacted by the wildfires.
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