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In 2009, after three years of intensive cultural consultation and design, Namelehuapono was founded by Joyful Heart board member Dr. Valli Kalei Kanuha as part of a collaboration with local service providers. Namelehuapono is a Native Hawaiian, culturally-based group intervention that uses Hawaiian values, beliefs, traditions and practices to address intimate partner, sexual and family violence. It was developed under the guidance of Hawaiian cultural practitioners, elders and domestic violence experts on O‘ahu. The model provides a holistic pathway to healing from trauma by integrating Hawaiian culture with other healing modalities situated in the unique and sacred milieu of Hawai‘i.
Honored by Kahu David Kaupu, a Hawaiian elder with the name of this innovative program, “Namelehuapono” means “working in a culturally correct, balanced, or “pono”, manner to plant the seeds that will guide women to healing culturally and spiritually.”
Joyful Heart, in partnership with Parents And Children Together, conducted our first Namelehuapono Wahine group in 2012.
Thanks to a grant from the James and Abigail Campbell Family Foundation, Joyful Heart is now partnering with community-based organizations on the island of O‘ahu to continue offering Namelehuapono Wahine groups for Hawaiian and Polynesian women survivors (“wahine” means women in Hawaiian). We are also collaborating with Dr. Kanuha to use the Namelehuapono framework to design and pilot a group curriculum for Hawaiian and Polynesian children experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence or child abuse and neglect. In addition, Joyful Heart will design a training program to provide local practitioners with the cultural knowledge and skills to expand the availability of this approach to communities throughout Hawai‘i.
Participants join Namelehuapono Wahine via referrals from the program’s partner organizations. Generally, participants have been in some sort of counseling or therapy and have had some time to process their trauma.