One group takes school to the homeless

Sam Carter
Sam Carter
Barbara-Jean Kaawa
Barbara-Jean Kaawa

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

WAIANAE (KHNL) - For many children who are homeless, making the commute to school can be tough.

But one group makes it easier by bringing the classroom to them.

The Ka Paalana program's main goal is to break the cycle and culture of poverty. For one woman, it did exactly that. She was once a focus of the program, now she's giving back.

Thursday is just another day of teaching for Barbara-Jean Kaawa. She packs up the van for the traveling pre-school. But it wasn't too long ago when she joined others in this program, as a participant.

"I never thought that I could be apart of helping out, now that I am, I'm just really, really happy, I love my job," she said.

Now she's enrolled in college and on her way to becoming a pre-school teacher.

"The feeling is just so overwhelming, I can put a smile on everyday, all day, it's really, really rewarding," she said.

The program's director Dan Goya hopes for similar stories like Kaawa's.

"There is life beyond, it can be real scary to go beyond out of this area, but just to take that chance and if they take that chance, we're gonna be there alongside with them," he said.

Sam carter and his six-month old son, Sefo have been in the program for two weeks.

"I didn't graduate from school and I don't want to see my kids in the same predicament," Carter said. "I figure if there's a start today by teaching them something new, that I went through, it would be a whole lot better for them."

Goya says most people in the program have welcomed them with open arms.

"We actually ask them what their needs are first and if we can meet them, they're within our goals, then we stay and they usually accept us that way," Goya said.

For Kaawa, acceptance also means giving back.

"No matter what happens, no matter what kind of curves you get, everything works out and there's always hope," she said.

A hope for others to find similar success.

The program is funded by state and federal grants. They were planning on taking their services to north shore families, but because of recent cutbacks, they're holding off on that.