We Got Ohana

Next month, our weekly message array in the Unichord will change from the Minister’s Message by me every week, to one by me only once a month, and the other weekly messages from others, including Steve Stultz as Board President, and other leaders and messengers to be determined.

This week, my family enlarged from four children to seven, as Deborah and I became foster parents of three siblings from the Micronesian Island group Chuuk.   Micronesia has a special immigration agreement with the U.S. because of all those atom- and hydrogen bomb testing. Remember Bikini Isle? That was in Micronesia.  Micronesia is one of areas threated by rising seas.

Hawaiians have a term ‘ohana’ for ‘extended family,’ and that’s what we have now: two girls and a boy, all teens. The foster care was originally just the two girls, but they were hesitant to leave the shelter without their big brother. All of them are transferring to the high school nearest their new home on the other side of Oahu.

Deborah writes “They have suffered trauma in their removal from their Micronesian home and community, in addition to years of neglect in their complicated family.  Seven siblings, half-siblings, and cousins [and a fluid group of adults] had been living together. They have opened up and smile and joke from time to time, but they are often quiet, shy, and even unresponsive some of the time. I am working on setting up expectations and structure. While I will be sensitive to, and gladly learn about their ethnic and cultural roots, I hope to help them achieve a better foundation for independence, empowerment, awareness of opportunities, and realistic paths for achievement.”

Here is a poem about what life is like for Micronesians living in Hawai’i, which has a reputation for successful multicultural living.  The poet is Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner who has become a well-known advocate.  Parental warning: the first line contains the F-bomb.

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