Friday, January 27, 2012

Leaving a Legacy. . .

They came, from Oahu and the Big Island, 13 young men and women, with the same passion, the same mission. Though not bound by blood, they were brothers and sisters, raised altogether in dozens of homes, some never meeting until that day on the North Shore. They were children of the foster care system, housed by many and loved by few. Varying in age, gender, size, personality, ethnicity-and yet, these young adults lived similar nightmares, shared the same experiences. The neglect, the abuse, the abandonment, the poverty, the ongoing struggles-traumatized first by biological family and then, repeatedly, by a system of state care: foster families, many who took them in as a means to earn a paycheck, some because they genuinely cared.

These young survivors, resilient adolescent warriors, came together to share, to strengthen one another, to strategize, for one amazing weekend.  They came together to take up arms for their fellow foster brothers and sisters, to fight with their voices, their stories. To advocate for change, for help, to bring awareness to those who would hear, to those who didn't know better and to those who refused to hear. These heroes, bound by HI HOPES, bound by duty and honor and a vow that future generations would not share the same song. Their words, their tales, their struggles would provide an impetus, a fire within them to forge ahead and build on the work of others, as well as to break unbroken ground, pioneers of change, pioneers of HOPE.

As the last moments of their time together waned, we all stood together in a sacred circle-on the sands of our ancestors, with the ocean in our ears and the sun in our eyes. We held hands-young and old-those who grew up in the system and those dedicated to improve the system.  Tears flowed, words were spoken, hearts were filled and our resolve strengthened. One young woman spoke out, her voice clear and strong; "One day our foster brothers and sisters will not know what it is to use garbage bags to carry their belongings. . .our work now will impact future generations. We stand here today to say that they will not be forgotten. Our legacy starts here and now. . .".

What a legacy to build, what a legacy to be a part of. . .what is your legacy?

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