Fed up! That's how Nani felt about the drugs in her neighborhood--Huli Street in the Homestead. Fed up and she'd had enough! And so she did something about it. She put up a sign. Her neighbor across the street saw the sign and asked for one. Soon people all up Huli Street were asking for signs and putting them up, saying "N.O.P.E to Dope." They won't allow dope in their neighborhood because now there are Neighbors On Patrol Everywhere!
On the evening of January 3, the Quarry meeting house was full to overflowing. Members of the community, residents of Huli Street, were there to express their concerns about drugs in their neighborhood. "How many of you live in fear?" Joseph Espinda asked the crowd. "It's the druggies, the ones on ice not afraid. This is Hawaiian land: how come Hawaiians rippin' off Hawaiians? I love where I live. I no like live in fear no more!"
Nani Akeo spoke about putting up the signs. "Every sign I wrote was my special message. Before you know it the neighbors wanted to put up their messages--that's good... Everyone says I'm strong--that I inspire them. But then they inspire me back."
"I'm happy to see this take place," said Leighton Kaonohi, a police officer who works with No Hope in Dope. "For drugs to flourish, it takes a lot of good people to do nothing. I see a lot of good people here. Don't wait for government to heal Waimanalo. We're part of the problem--we're part of the solution. The fight starts in our home, with our hands clasped. Until we start putting our hands around our kids, instead of around their necks... If you don't know where your children are, that's part of the problem."
Listening were enforcement officer John Piper from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. DHHL has the power to evict a family from their homestead if they are using the residence for illegal activities. Also present were State Representative Eve Anderson, and State Senator Whitney Anderson.
As the meeting wound down, committees were formed. At later meetings, the committee forged a vision statement, and discussed mission and goals. Showing the support in the neighborhood was agreed upon as an important element. The idea of a march came up--and a picnic--time for sharing and solidarity.
Other groups are coming together to combat crime in Waimanalo. About a year ago, a number of concerned people got together to stop the graffiti at Waimanalo School. They walk the school campus in the evenings in groups of twos and threes. Cheryl Kamau'u, a custodian at Waimanalo School said, "It makes a difference. Kids ask us why we do it. I tell them: things that are taken from the schools is taken from the kids' education."
The farmers in the valley have increasingly become the victims of burglaries--items have been taken from residences as well as plants from the nurseries. Jim Andrews, a landscaper in the farm lots said, "Farmers are getting hit. It's a community problem that can be solved if we band together. We take turns riding around during the hot spot hours. If we see anyone suspicious it warrants a call to 911. We want to send a message to the people who are doing this."
On February 17, N.O.P.E. will sponsor a march to show the strength of concern in the community. The march will begin at the Waimanalo Homestead Association meeting house at the Quarry (on Kalanianaole Highway across from the Beach Park), will go up Nakini Street to Huli Street, follow Huli Street back down to Kalanianaole Highway, and across to the Beach Park pavilion. Walk the whole way or meet up with the march part way.
After the march there will be a picnic with entertainment at the Beach Park pavilion. There will be time and space for people to share and give support--not just on how to get drugs out of our community, but how to get drugs out of our life. People who've been there, and have gotten off drugs, will be available to give support to those who want to take that step but aren't sure how.