There are strict rules regulating daily life inside Pu‘uhonua O Waianae — and those who repeatedly violate them are kicked out.
The entire area is divided into 10 sections, with “block captains” assigned to each section to keep order and track violations.
The rules are designed to keep the encampment clean and organized.
“Respect where we live,” said resident Moki Hokoana, who serves as block captain for three sections due to vacancies. “This is our home.”
There’s a mandatory, monthly community meeting. And each person is required to perform eight hours of monthly community service.
The rules are simple and common sense.
“Basically, clean up your areas,” Hokoana said. “No loud music after 8 because the kids have to go to school in the morning — 10 p.m. on the weekends. Don’t touch other people’s property. No stealing. There’s zero tolerance for stealing.”
Last week, Hokoana pointed to a structure that had been vacated by a young couple who were kicked out a couple of weeks before “for disrespecting people’s properties.”
But Hokoana said Twinkle Borges, who runs the camp, always keeps track of those who are asked to leave Pu‘uhonua O Waianae because “we’re family.”
Disputes between homeless residents are sometimes resolved in a makeshift boxing ring.
When the bout is finished, no matter who wins, “You shake hands and it’s done,” Hokoana said.
Adults walk the younger kids to and from school while making sure the older children get to nearby Waianae High School each day.
“All our kids go to school every day,” Hokoana said. “And all our kids graduate high school. Promise to God.”
The camp is full of Hawaiians, Samoans and Micronesians, and the residents learn to appreciate — and respect — one another’s culture, she said.
There’s a cultural “learning center” that includes holes that are believed to lead to rare, underground anchialine shrimp.
If someone discovers a rock wall that has lost a rock, everyone knows to leave it alone until it can be put back properly and respectfully, Hokoana said.
“Nobody touches the rocks,” she said.
The learning center has been visited by school groups, CNN and people from the University of Hawaii.
Duke Heu, 58, has been living in Pu‘uhonua O Waianae for eight years and teaches hula.
“Anybody who wants to learn can come,” Heu said. “People come from all over.”
There’s a donation center run by Pu‘uhonua O Waianae resident Lynn Luafalemana, 28, and residents can take as many as 10 items.
While the center was full last week with clothes and household items, Hokoana said parents can always use baby wipes and diapers.
Water bottles to bring in water are always needed, Hokoana said, and wagons to lug the bottles are appreciated.
And there’s always a need for supplies to reinforce living structures, she said.
“We need tarps and rope — a lot of rope.”