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    Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to Present ‘Ohana Fundraiser for Lahaina on August 31

    By Sister Merry Peter–

    The voice on the phone cracked as she replied, “We’re very lucky that we are all safe. Mahalo for asking. We’re trying to help each other each day.” Then she paused, and her silence conveyed her exhaustion and grief. But after a moment, she continued saying, “We need tarps, storage containers, toiletries, and diapers.”

    One week on from the devastating wildfires that ravaged Maui and burned Lahaina to ash, Auntie Jamie, at the Maui AIDS Foundation, conveyed the unimaginable scope of the crisis, but also the intimate, personal loss, and the resolve of the island’s MVPFAFF*/LGBTQIA+ community to come together and help. Like many Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians), Jamie, and the Foundation team pivoted, drawing on their skills and tapping their networks to build supply chains, deliver relief, information, and compassionate care.

    With a total population of 165,000 (compared to 800,000+ in San Francisco), no one is untouched by these wildfires, including Maui’s MVPFAFF/LGBTQIA+ community where personal relationships and shared experience knit people together and deepen the feeling of ‘Ohana (family). Facing spiraling costs of living, an acute affordable housing shortage, growing impacts from climate change, neglect from government agencies, and exploitation rooted in colonialism and predatory capitalism, many draw on the Na Waiwai (treasured values) of aloha (respect),  laulima  (cooperation) and malama (care and stewardship) to nurture and sustain ‘Ohana. In response to these wildfires, people are making a way where there is no way. That is the Hawaiian way.

    In San Francisco, many of us have deep personal connections to Maui and to Hawaiʻi. Our powerful historic and cultural ties and contributions of Kānaka Maoli living here enrich our community. COVID, housing shortages, inflation, and the growing threat from wildfires, drought, and sea-level rise remind us we are connected to Maui in very real ways. We are part of the same ‘Ohana called to support each other.

    Please join the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at ’Ohana, a fundraiser for the Maui AIDS Foundation’s wildfire relief effort at the Lookout on Thursday, August 31, from 9 pm–1 am. The evening will feature DJ Bugie, Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu National Hula Dance Company, pop-up performances, and special guests. Suggested donations are $5–$100 with 100% of the benefit proceeds going towards wildfire relief.

    Phylesha Brown-Acton

    Disasters like the Maui wildfires can leave us feeling powerless. But that is when showing up matters most and we can draw strength from being part of a deeply connected family. Mahalo for showing up!

    *Fakafifine activist Phylesha Brown-Acton coined the acronym MVPFAFF, meaning Māhū, Vakasalewalewa, Palopa, Fa’afafine, Akava’ine, Fakafifine, and Fakaleiti/leiti, to recognize identities that do not necessarily align with the “LGBTQIA+” acronym and are specific to Pacific communities. We include it here out of deep respect.

    Sister Merry Peter, SPI, is a long-time member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

    Published on August 24, 2023