Maui Lahaina fires| TEACHERS TO RETURN TO WORK? Children STILL MISSING from Lahaina! Where are they?
Maui Lahaina fires| Missing Kids Teachers leads efforts to remember the kids of Lahaina
Maui Lahaina fires| Teachers from Elementary School give interview| Where are the children?
Down the Rabbit Hole News provides commentary to this tragedy
Lahaina teacher leads efforts to remember children killed and missing after wildfires.
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Nearly three weeks after deadly wildfires swept through parts of West Maui, community members are honoring the 115 dead as well as the hundreds still missing. NPR's Kira Wakeam brings us a story of one Lahaina teacher leading efforts to remember local children.
KIRA WAKEAM, BYLINE: Kiley Adolpho is a third grade teacher at Princess Nahi'ena'ena Elementary School in Lahaina. And she has just one hope.
KILEY ADOLPHO: I want people to remember their faces, not just names.
WAKEAM: While most schools in the area remained closed after the fires, she and a group of teachers decided they needed somewhere to remember the students they've lost.
ADOLPHO: We wanted a visual representation of the people we love. We wanted to see each other, to share each other's spirit.
WAKEAM: They've created a memorial here at Kelawea Mauka Makai Park, roughly a mile from the water. Perched along a mountainside with sweeping views of the now decimated Lahaina town, Adolpho says, before the fires, this park was the place to be for kids.
ADOLPHO: Coming down the hill every day, you see the children running, just running. And they stopped right here to be picked up by their parents, waiting for their friends from other schools from the top side.
WAKEAM: The memorial includes posters of two young victims and an ahu, a Native Hawaiian altar made of stones from a local stream and native plants. Adolpho, whose native Hawaiian, visits the park daily to tend to the ahu, water its plants and greet visitors. On this day, she's talking to Trinette Furtado and Kamiki Carter of Maui Rapid Response, a locally run disaster response team.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Cherry cookie, chocolate cherry cheesecake, peanut butter, vanilla fudge.
ADOLPHO: Let me give you a hug first.
WAKEAM: The two were delivering food, water and ice cream in the neighborhood when they spotted Kiley and decided to help her publicize the memorial on Facebook.
ADOLPHO: Are we doing it under one minute, because I know there's just a…
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Just put it. There's no – just do it.
ADOLPHO: (Laughter) OK.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I am not…
WAKEAM: Adolpho is trying to get the word out and encourages anyone who's grieving to share their memories here.
ADOLPHO: I'm hoping that they'll continue to come because the story will continue so no one forgets.
WAKEAM: Kellie Perez also teaches at Princess Nahi'ena'ena Elementary School. She and her husband drove up to deliver supplies to a nearby community resource hub. She taught one of the deceased students, 7-year-old Tony Takafua.
KELLIE PEREZ: We had just started our first day of kindergarten. Everybody was there. And he stood up very proudly and he said, I'm tall because I'm Tongan. And I said, yes, you are, sweet boy. Now let's have a great year.
WAKEAM: For her, having a place she can come and share memories of Tony like this one have helped her grieve.
Kira Wakeam, NPR News, Maui.
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