Neighborhood Place of Puna services are built on relationships, relationships that deeply value each individual person. We help families who are trying to raise safe and healthy children. We provide emergency food assistance to families and individuals who are hungry. We are also helping individuals and families dealing with the impacts of Hurricane Iselle and the June 27th lava flow.
We have helped some of the impacted families and individuals find new housing and get moved, replace furnishings, make simple home repairs, and get connected to resources in the community. Unfortunately, disaster recovery can be a slow process. And it can often feel as if we are not doing enough to help families whose lives have been turned upside down by disaster. Nevertheless, Neighborhood Place of Puna tries to make sure that no one falls through the cracks. Because, in the midst of the emotional turmoil and loss that is a natural disaster, families need all the support they can get, even if it is only a kind word and a promise to continue to follow up. In short, Neighborhood Place of Puna always tries to respond with compassion.
Compassion can be uncomfortable and challenging. Compassion means to “suffer with.” To have compassion for someone, we must be willing to feel, to some degree, their pain and suffering. We must be able to put ourselves in their place and understand, in our hearts, the pain and suffering that they are experiencing.
Compassion, however, is not weak. It sees to the root of suffering, whether the cause of suffering is external, like a natural disaster, or internal, like behaviors that are unhealthy, or immoral, or dangerous.
In either case, whether suffering arises from within or without, helping must begin from a place of compassion: recognizing the very real suffering of the other. Yes, certainly, we can help people learn basic life skills, or find housing, or handle their money better, or make sure they have enough food, or have proper medical care. And while all of these concrete supports are important, they are secondary to the building of relationships that honor each and every individual, which is, ultimately, the work and mission of Neighborhood Place of Puna.
Paul Normann, Executive DirectorImage: “Compassionate hands” by Enver Rahmanov – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Compassionate_hands.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Compassionate_hands.JPG