Caring in Crisis

written by Patricia M. Burrell, Ph.D., APRN, BC, CNE,  Professor of Nursing, Director, Transcultural Nursing Center Hawaii Pacific University, School of Nursing, Honolulu, HI

Aloha! In spite of the devastation that we’ve witnessed on Maui; caring, compassion, and concern are ever present in our multicultural, multi-island state. Care, compassion, and caring is ever present in the gifts, work, personal labor and concern shared by many differing peoples throughout the mainland US and throughout the world. The fires started on August 8th wreaking havoc and destruction throughout the island. On August 10th, we gathered with others, collecting canned goods, bottled water, hygiene supplies, bedding, clothing, and mattresses at one of the piers in town. We packed the goods on pallets that we then bound with wrap. We kept packing the pallets, and people kept coming in their trucks and cars and kept dropping off more goods for the people of Maui. The packing was supposed to end by 2 p.m. The packed pallets were loaded and brought out to a boat that was going to do the 10-hour journey to Maui. The captain was concerned that people on Maui were in need of masks and was able to get some cartons donated from a store. We had to keep obtaining more pallets to handle the increasing amount of goods being dropped off by the people of Oahu. Others went over to Maui with the Red Cross and other groups to help the people with their health needs. Needless to say, fire teams and others went over to Maui from the other islands to help contain and extinguish the fires, search for people and bodies and help the people on Maui through the immediate trying hours of the disaster. We see and hear the stories of the people who helped their neighbors escape the destruction, and we see and hear the stories of those who helped and didn’t make it out alive. We know of some of the displaced who’ve been taken in by family on other islands as well as on Maui. Through it all, the peoples of the world, the country, and the state continue to give money, goods, time and labor to the people of Maui. Caring has been exemplified in multitudinous ways by people across the world. Hawaii has been the recipient of “Aloha” from around the world. Aloha can mean ‘love, affection, peace, compassion, mercy and caring’. We will rebuild Maui and we will help our Maui people in their forging ahead in their lives. In our expression of Aloha, caring and compassion, we’ve demonstrated what we term as “Ohana” in Hawaii. Ohana means family. We are all family in this struggle, sharing our Aloha. Aloha also means hello & good-bye. I wish you all “Alooooha” and ‘Mahalo nui loa - Thank you from the depth of my being for your caring, your acts of generosity, your kind thoughts and your many prayers for the people of Maui.