CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mahealani Keawemauhili and her sister Piilani Keawemauhili cleared out debris yesterday at the construction site in Nanakuli where a seven-bedroom home is being built by Habitat for Humanity. Mahealani Keawemauhili will be moving into the home with her four children along with her sister Rose Kaneakua, her husband and six children for a total of 13 family members. CLICK FOR LARGE
Habitat building hope
After more than 15 years, a family will be homeless no more
A HOMELESS family of 10 children and three adults were thrilled to have more than 75 volunteers from Rotary Clubs help them build their first home in Nanakuli yesterday.
The home, at 89-201 Nanaikala St., is the biggest house that Habitat for Humanity has built in Hawaii.
An emotional 28-year-old Rose Kaneakua and her husband, 31-year-old Kaulana Kaneakua, greeted people who would help them achieve their long-awaited "real" home.
To become a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, call 696-7882. For more information, visit www.leewardhabitat.org.
"We've waited a long time for this. It's a lot of hard work. We've met a lot of wonderful people. Habitat for Humanity has been such a big blessing to us," said Kaulana Kaneakua, a newspaper distributor for A&P Distributors.
The couple, with children ages 2 to 11, have been homeless for more than 15 years. With the Kaneakuas' six children, Rose's sister Mahealani Keawemauhili and her four children, the family has had to struggle with weather conditions and uncertainty for a long time.
Kaneakua said that the children suffered the most when they started school.
"They go through a lot with school and their peers. It is so hard for them, they get picked on because they are the homeless kids. But now they're really excited about having a real home now. They know they won't go through that anymore. It kind of brings tears to your eyes, when you think of your children putting up with peers at school," said Kaneakua.
Equipped with a seven-bedroom, two-bathroom home, the Kaneakua family will never have to worry about relocating.
"This is the biggest home we've built so far. It's a huge task," said Sharon Moran of Habitat for Humanity. Moran estimated that the house would take between 4,000 to 5,000 hours of volunteer work to finish by October.
"They've needed this house for a long time, before they heard about habitat, they were hopeless. This house has come to be a reality for them. This is a special miracle because of this special family."
Dennis Kim, one of the Rotary volunteers, drove all the way from his home in Punchbowl to Waianae to help with the house. He also donated a native plant for each of the 10 children for the Kaneakuas' yard.
Kim, a 65-year-old landscape architect, said that it would be a symbol of ownership for them and the plant can grow along with them.
"I thought it would be a great thing to do, it's always good to give. You get a great satisfaction," said Kim.