United, a family can weather life’s unexpected obstacles

United, a family can weather life’s unexpected obstacles

A friendly, consistent face. Weathered by lived experience with eyes that express respect and compassion. No matter what’s happening at home, or with family, Betty is there ready to greet you, ring up your purchase at Palama Express, and say “have a good day.”

Her family’s journey to Kahauiki Village was not an easy one, and continues to prove difficult. Moving from Chuuk, Betty was determined to get her son access to healthcare he needed. They came here with little money or support, and she recalls walking the island with all of her children – “one in the stroller, another strapped to my chest” – looking for a place to stay and pleading with doctors and nurses to help. He was going to get better, he wouldn’t get worse, “not on [her] watch.” 

They found their way to Waianae, to a supportive housing program that helped her find employment and a room for her, her six kids, and husband. But the distance to and from Kapiolani hospital was too much and took away from her work availability. 

Betty’s husband has schizophrenia – something she self-diagnosed before the doctors did. Along with caring for her keiki, she also cares for her husband, making sure he’s safe at home. He can’t work traditional work, so it’s left to Betty to work and pay for housing, groceries, go to the appointments, and everything in between.

When she wanted to leave Waianae and find housing closer to the hospital, she faced the obstacle of finding a solution that would accommodate her husband and single-income household. Kahauiki Village was an answer to many of their needs, an affordable home that would allow her family to stay together, close to Kapiolani, with a job onsite and good resources for her children. 

Before the pandemic, Betty worked two jobs. As the pandemic worsened and scheduling became inconsistent, she had to give up the higher paying job and settle for working solely at Kahauiki Village’s convenience store. Its proximity allows her to be available for her kids when they’re done with school and close to home in case her husband needs her.

The pandemic hasn’t been kind to Betty and her family. Last year she lost her brother and took in his children, giving them a place to live and stability to continue their education. Currently while her other brother is in the hospital, she helps his family too. She was raised to believe that family comes first and should never shy away from helping out one of her own. It is a responsibility she never shied away from. “That’s what we do,” she said. “We are family and we stick together.”

For Betty, Kahauiki Village enables her family to stay together and close to loved ones; hospital visits no longer require a two hour commute. But it has not been all smooth sailing since they moved in, as a single-income household, it is still difficult to pay rent, feed her children, and provide them with everything they need. The village provides a place of stability but there are still new and recurring obstacles that her family faces everyday.

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