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Hoʻolauna (greetings)

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

We wanted to start off our first blog as an introduction for everyone to gain a better understanding of who we are and why we created Pua Mohala Healing and Advocacy.

I am Priscilla Fuentes Smith, born and raised in Los Angeles, a daughter of an indigenous Mexican mother and indigenous Costa Rican father. After my sophomore year at UCLA, I decided on a whim to move away and spread my wings at the University of Hawaii and have called this place my home for the past 27 years. Upon completion of my masterʻs degree in social work (literally the week after graduation), I married the love of my life and have been married over 20 years and have 2 teenagers, a daughter and a son. Because I was raised with a very strong connection to my own culture and understood the importance of speaking another language (Spanish was my first language), we enrolled our children in Hawaiian Immersion education. My husband, being Native Hawaiian, knew that this education could teach them much more than what he knew as a kanaka maoli. As parents, we have been very committed in creating a village for our children that is centered around cultural experts and language keepers. Cultural identification has been at the forefront of most of our parenting decisions and family activities. With over 20 years working in the mental health profession with a concentration on adolescent populations and their families, I have seen first hand how western modalities oftentimes are just not as effective within indigenous populations, particularly our youth, who do not have a lot of choices in service providers. As a society, we fall short when it comes to providing life skill services and mental health supportive services to our indigenous adolescents and it’s our mission here at Pua Mohala to fill in that gap.

Resha Momilani Ramolete was born and raised in Koʻolau, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. A graduate of Castle High School, she holds a Bachelorʻs degree in Elementary Education and Masters degrees in Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Leadership from Chaminade University of Honolulu. Momi is the mother to an amazing young man who she is raising in her village of family and friends that do everything with aloha ʻāina in mind. When Momi is not administering as a Vice Principal at a local high school, she has been studying with Kumu Hula Māpuana de Silva at Hālau Mōhala ʻIlima for 20 years, is a senior member of the Lei ʻApiki class, and is currently training to ʻūniki in traditional ʻailolo ceremony as ʻōlapa. She serves in several of Hawaiʻiʻs community organizations as a kumu alakaʻi for cultural non-profit, a community partner of Koʻolau ʻĀina Aloha, and board member of Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club, Hikaʻalani, and the Hawaiʻi Seventh-Day Adventist Board of Education. As a Native Hawaiian, Momi has seen many of the disparities that her people face when it comes to social services and mental health support. Momi has worked with the adolescent population for over 15 years and understands the unique challenges that educating and encouraging this population can present. Momi has centered her life around indigenous practices such as hula and educating the keiki in aloha ʻāina. Momi is raising her teenage son with aloha ʻāina as the focal point in all her decisions and desires nothing more than to encourage these practices among other indigenous youth so that we may have a healthier and more culturally connected lāhui. She understands the importance of guiding and supporting the next generation and to ensure they are deeply rooted in their ancestral ways so they can use that knowledge to make their communities safer and more engaged.

Pua Mohala was born out of our passion and commitment to fill in a service gap that we have seen for the adolescents and young adults in our communities and beyond. We want to empower our youth to tell their own stories and to find their own voices within their communities that oftentimes seek to silence them and undervalue their contributions. Being a teenager is hard enough and when you have added obstacles on top of that it can place them in an even more vulnerable position. As mothers, we have continuously sought out and worked for culturally based programs for our children and they have all been wonderful and amazing. These programs have inspired us to start our own business and utilize our expertise to provide a unique experience for our older youth that oftentimes age out of these programs or desire to participate exclusively with peers their own age. We can attest to the success that culturally based programs and classes have had within our own families and those of our friends. Many parents don’t know where to start with their teens and that is why we feel we can serve as an invaluable resource for our communities and beyond.

We are excited to announce the launch of Pua Mohala Healing and Advocacy Services. Itʻs been a dream of ours to create a safe space for our indigenous youth to explore and find self empowerment, while still remaining rooted and grounded in their culture. We wholeheartedly believe in the ʻōlelo noʻeau “I ka wā ma mua, I ka wā ma hope- the future is in the past.” Our kupuna had the answers. Itʻs up to us use this ʻike kupuna and move through this modern world.

We are happy to be providing healing and wellness services through retreats, workshops, counseling, and holistic health practices. We hope to make a great impact on our lāhui by being a resource for other culturally conscious parents. For our keiki, we hope to be a place of inspiration, love, and support. We hope to be a place where you bloom, find your voice, and feel represented.

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