Community Health Center Connects to Hawaiian Culture
MCHC News Release
The Molokai Community Health Center (MCHC) was the training site for a three-day workshop for a new education curriculum based on the ancient Hawaiian practice of uhau humu pohakau, or dry stack stone masonry. The unique curriculum was designed by Hui Ho`oniho and funded by the Administration for Native Americans.
“We were excited to partner with Hui Ho`oniho to help launch this new curriculum,” said Matt Yamashita, president of MCHC. “Our health center is committed to educational and cultural efforts that benefit our community.”
The workshop’s primary goal was to train educators in how to use the new curriculum in classroom settings. Guided by master mason Billy Fields of Kona, the training ended with the construction of a stone structure near the main entrance of the health center.
Fields explained that the structure is one of the simplest to build and perfect as a training exercise. But some in the community have shared a concern that the ahu is a religious structure.
“We build these types of structures to mark ahupua`a and property boundaries, [but] they can also be a place for spiritual connection,” said Fields. “It’s up to the [MCHC] to decide what its function is here.”
Yamashita said that the structure represents a connection to Native Hawaiian culture and a reminder of Molokai’s past. “It is not intended to be a religious structure. It is a cultural centerpiece and a beautiful work of art.”
“Part of our vision is to work for the health and wellness of mind, body, & spirit,” added Desiree Puhi, executive director of MCHC. “We want to reflect our community and its diversity and celebrate the many cultures and belief systems that make Molokai so unique.”
MCHC is also working on plans for an all-faiths prayer room and a serenity garden in an ongoing effort to honor the spiritual well being of the community.
Meanwhile, Hui Ho`oniho hopes its education curriculum will help to perpetuate the practice of dry stack stone masonry throughout Hawaii.