HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was a holiday reunion — fueled by the spirit of aloha.
Thanks to the kindness of strangers, a family battered by health crises and financial challenges was able to overcome the odds to reunite on Christmas Day.
Masina Kelemete is a single mother who has been through a lot in her life and especially this past year.
Her children went back to Samoa to visit their grandmother this summer and there was no way the family could afford to get back together on Oahu for Christmas.
That is, until something pretty amazing happened: A Hawaiian Airlines employee donated her family’s flights from Samoa. And then the community pitched in to make sure the little family had what they needed to get through the holidays: Gift cards, toiletries and food.
On Christmas Day, the whole family was back together in their tiny one-bedroom apartment.
Kelemete couldn’t talk about the gift without crying. She was overjoyed to have her mother, who will return to Samoa after the holidays, and three children by her side.
“I want to thank God for bringing my family together this Christmas," she said.
Kelemete has walked a tough road.
She’s overcome addiction, domestic abuse and homelessness. After getting her life on track, she suffered two strokes and a serious car accident.
Kelemete’s family got back to the island with nothing but the clothes on their backs. But more strangers pitched in to make sure they had what they needed.
The family shared their gratitude on Christmas Day with a special dinner their hanai ohana.
“My heart is just overwhelmed with joy, just everything that happened," said Tricia Liupaono, who was by Kelemete’s side through just about everything, including her first stroke.
“She couldn’t talk, she couldn’t move her leg her arm, nothing. I remember the doctor was trying to wake her up and she just looked like she didn’t want to like she was going to give up.”
The family is also incredibly grateful for people like social worker Dawn O’Brien.
She works with HOPE HI, an organization that helps broken families heal, and she’s the one who helped bring together friends and family to help a mother in need.
“We overcome that one family at a time," she said. “Because in Hawaii, ohana really does mean family and we overcome as an ohana."