With just 10 days to go in their 30-day online crowdfunding drive, the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) has raised less than one-third of third of the $100,000 they need to show the State of Hawaii that people care about the restoration of the island, their latest GoFundMe results show. At press time, the campaign has raised just $29,747 from 278 people over the last 20 days.
Acknowledging this, the KIRC public information office sent out an email today that includes a passionate plea for funds from an unnamed “friend of the KIRC.” It’s a compelling statement that deserves to be quoted in some detail:
I have started this letter a number of times. I’ve deleted it and rewritten it and then deleted it again. I’ve copied and pasted parts of it from a plea sent out by my daughter, but that doesn’t work either. There is no easy way to do this. The thoughts need to be my own and yet they are shared by the multitude of volunteers and supporters who have given so much in so many ways to Kaho’olawe.
From there, the unnamed writer goes on to explain why the KIRC needs to go directly to the people of Hawaii for money to use to help restore Kahoolawe, which was devastated by decades of bombardment from its post-war use as a U.S. Navy target range.
The Legislature, upon whom the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) must now depend for funding, munificently appropriated less than one-third of the requested $6 million for the biennium budget, beginning July 1, 2015.
On June 30th, half of the KIRC staff will be laid off. These people don’t have cushy state jobs; they believe in the KIRC vision and mission; they live and breath Kaho’olawe. Unless you have been on island with them, worked at their side, listened to their stories, and shared their food, you may not understand their passion, dedication to, and aloha for Kaho’olawe. The remaining employees will attempt to carry on, while being subjected to severe budget and other restraints, including furloughs every other Friday. (Those of you who have been through State imposed furloughs understand what that entails.)
The KIRC, the writer reminds us, was created by the State of Hawaii in the first place to return Kaho`olawe to a functioning island:
The Protect Kaho`olawe `Ohana led the way and they continue to quietly and effectively carry out their mission. PKO depends on volunteers and donations. Now the KIRC has been directed to do likewise. Remember, “the KIRC was established by the Hawai`i State Legislature in 1993 to manage the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve while held in trust for a future Native Hawaiian sovereign entity. The KIRC has pledged to provide for the meaningful and safe use of Kaho’olawe for the purpose of the traditional and cultural practices of the native Hawaiian people and to undertake the restoration of the island and its waters. Its mission is to implement the vision for Kaho`olawe Island in which the kino (body) of Kaho`olawe is restored and na poe o Hawai`i (the people of Hawaii) care for the land. The organization is managed by a seven-member Commission and a committed staff of 18.”
But now, the KIRC’s staff–which is tiny–can no longer do its job, the write pleads:
Eighteen people care for an island 12 miles long–45 square miles, not counting the three miles of surrounding ocean, all of which are covered with unexploded ordnance. How many does it take to care for the State Capitol? I’ll bet it’s a whole lot more than 18 people! And don’t forget that, for the most part, KIRC personnel are on call 24-7.
For more information on the KIRC’s fundraising campaign, go Gofundme.com/alohakahoolawe2015.
Photo of Kaho`olawe: Forest & Kim Starr/Wikimedia Commons