2019 Running Strong for American Indian Youth Dreamstarter Aukea Ka’aekuahiwi (Native Hawaiian), 17, of Kapaa, is realizing his Hawaii dream project, “The Swine Project,” of producing and selling traditional foods by by building a certified underground cooker/steamer and teaching other Native Hawaiian youth the practices for creating traditional pork products.
“The dream would be to help the youth in our community and give them access to the tools needed to further their dreams, whether it is to provide for their families or help others,” said Aukea in his Dreamstarter application.
“This will allow more people of our age to help their families with saving income while providing food. I believe that our community can benefit from these practices with the proper knowledge and hands-on experience that the youth can gain from this program.”
Aukea (left) explained that his “ultimate dream” is to create more opportunities for his fellow Native American youth.
“By bringing in more locally-valued products, we could maximize our profits by food efficiency and meat conservation. I would like to teach them about the hog process from before they are born up until they can be used for food.
“This grant would help us build an infrastructure that can be used for many years down the road and continue to supply Kohala, with the possibility of a wider range of people.
“I would use the traditional methods that were once used by my ancestors — this would conserve energy, create a healthier lifestyle and give more appreciation for the hard work that is put into this process.”
Aukea told us that at the beginning of his Dreamstarter project he felt that his community could use the push to grow their own crops and raise their own meat without chemicals.
“Lately, we have seen the need to give youth a safe place to go and learn new things that would help everyone,” he said. “Our program is focused on helping them to become great adults and to make good decisions.”
Among those Native Hawaiian youth who have benefited from Aukea’s $10,000 Dreamstarter grant is one of his mentees who comes from a low-income household and was provided with a piglet to raise and ultimately fill his family’s freezer with meat.
Aukea reported that he is pushing forward on a certified “imu,” a traditional underground cooker/steamer, and smokehouse to make kalua pork, “lau lau” (pork wrapped in taro leaves in a Ti leaf) and smoked pork.
And to the supporters of Running Strong’s Dreamstarter program who are helping Aukea realize his dream, he says:
“I am very blessed to have been given this opportunity and find this to be just the beginning.”