The Hawaii Conference hosted a ACS Emotional and Spiritual Care session this week in the aftermath of the volcanic eruption that has devastated hundreds of homes and property. Thirty-five pastors and lay members took advantage of the classes that were taught in Oahu by W. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS DR Director. The Hawaii ACS DR Director, William Payne, is also hosting a wonderful series of Disaster Response training that started with Derrick and will continue until the weekend by the Pacific Union ACS Director, Charlene Sargent.
After the sessions, Derrick headed to the Big Island of Hawaii to support Pastor Lopez, our lead on the ground. His Team has been feeding the community at least two days a week and working at two shelters that are housing those whose homes have been overtaken by the lava flow. Currently, Camp Waianae in Oahu has opened its doors to over 30 children who live on the Big Island. This has provided respite and rejuvenation for a group that will be confronting challenges in the long run.
Derrick had an opportunity to speak with some of the children that were flown to Oahu from the Big Island. Each of them was so excited to express how much fun they were having learning new things and taking part in the nightly vespers. “It was thrilling to hear the excitement of the youth and just as encouraging to see the work our young adult Counselors put into making this such a wonderful experience,” said Lea. He added, “While the Camp does provide a respite to the children, as I walked around two of the shelters on the Big Island, I was struck by the reality the children will return to.” Due to limited space, both shelters provide beds closely positioned next to the other. Tents were set up around the parking lot and in the lawn area. This seems to provide some level of privacy, but the daily rain makes this an uncomfortable circumstance.
In addition, there were other challenges that the residents were facing. Breathing in this environment is extremely difficult, even for those without asthma. Many of the occupants and workers talked about having a constant headache for days. Though the Governing authorities suggest the air quality is acceptable, those on site have a differing opinion. The ACS DR Teams continue to work with the local community to ensure a long-term Recovery Plan is being worked on that will meet the needs of the community.
Click here to get a glimpse of the work that ACS was involved in this week.