Monday, December 1, 2014

Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Safety Trainees on Kahoʻolawe

Cashman sisters, Ulu and Pilialoha being awarded their KIRC Access Guide Certificate
after completing all their training requirements.
When I was first asked to attend Access Guide Training, I was hesitant because of the role I was being asked to play by those whom I trusted most. Whether or not I passed the training, I had just been told that this could be my chosen path to Aloha ‘Āina on Kaho‘olawe. As one flips the coin of responsibility and privilege, my own Ala Loa was changing just as I am.

Access Guide Training was a trip of many firsts. It was a striking chance to see the pleasant clash of polar opposites. The classroom became a melting pot of learning about the dangerous and the safe, along with the past and the future. 

I learned about the very thing that could kill me: UXO (unexploded ordnance). Learning to identify UXO was like learning a foreign language. But, when we were put on the spot in the field surrounded by live UXO’s, it became hard to focus on identification. How could you not think about all the suffering that a single UXO could do to the land, a person, and a people? I would make sure the future generations would know the story. 

I am very thankful to Mike (Executive Director), Bart (UXO Safety Specialist), and Grant (Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Specialist III) who took the time to establish a foundation of safety while being open to an equal playing field of ages and personalities. Thank you to the KIRC staff for being open and helping in the preparation of Access Guide Training. Mahalo most of all to those who have supported me through Access Guide Training and continue to support me.
— Pilialohamauloa Cashman

At first I wasn’t sure if becoming an Access Guide was something that I was worthy of - but I am committed to do anything for the lāhui and Kaho‘olawe.

My main goal for becoming an Access Guide is to support the effort towards the completion of the Ala Loa. Being given such a big responsibility was heavy, but knowing that the few supporting me to attend training believed that I could do this, I needed to believe in myself. And I do.

Despite my age, I focused my energy on representing the next generation that those before me can rely on to follow through and to prepare both my generation of leaders and those that will follow. This was the beginning of my kuleana to Kaho‘olawe and the lāhui. 

Mahalo to Mike, Bart, and Grant for their patience and willingness to instill safety in us while on Kaho‘olawe. Most of all, mahalo to them for viewing all members as equals. Despite individual ages and the amount of time each spent on Kaho‘olawe, they instilled that safety is number one.  Mahalo to the KIRC staff, to all of my classmates for their kōkua, laughs and life long memories and to all of the individuals that continue to support and believe in my desire to be a part of Kaho‘olawe. Most importantly, mahalo piha Kanaloa. Amama ua noa…
 — Uluwehiokapulapulaikalaakea Cashman

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