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Lifestyle // Good Neighbors
Nicole Kato

Chris Kanemura

Photo from Chris Kanemura

Photo from Chris Kanemura

Made in Hope has made it its mission to address the issues of exploitation and violence against women and children through prevention and awareness. Co-founder Chris Kanemura, along with his partner Michelle Tolentino, also focuses on the sustainable aspects for women and at-risk communities.

The organization was started in 2001 in the Philippines as a business, and in early 2012 it became a nonprofit.

Made in Hope began when Tolentino returned from a trip to the Philippines, where she resides, to speak at a Hawaiian Island Ministries (HIM) conference.

“On the last night of her trip, Made in Hope was birthed through a conversation,” notes Kane-mura, who sits on the organization’s board of directors. Tolentino’s experience in the Philippines led her to volunteer with an organization that supports low-income women coming out of prostitution.

“They have crafts that they make, and these women who make them create a livelihood,” Kanemura explains.

Tolentino handles Made in Hope’s global aspect, and travels as a guest speaker across the world. Kanemura focuses on Made in Hope’s mission here at home.

The nonprofit recently has come out of a busy season, in which volunteers took part in a HIM conference and spoke at various churches during the past couple of months.

“We partnered with the Domestic Violence Action Center so they can get more involved in the Waipahu community,” Kanemura says. “They’re trying to get more involvement in addressing domestic violence. We’re helping them bridge partners, like Waipahu High and Nanakuli High, and a whole bunch of grassroots organizations.”

Kanemura also hopes to bring Made in Hope to Neighbor Islands. “My family has a farm and some other property on Maui, and we want to see if there’s a way to integrate that portion into Made in Hope,” he says, likening his future thinking to what Surfing the Nations in Wahiawa is doing with its Surfers Coffee Bar.

In the nearer future, Kanemura says HIM is looking to partner with Made in Hope to bring a conference to the Philippines in January.

He describes his journey as simply amazing, and explains that his joy comes from watching profitable partnerships happen for the betterment of the community.

“Everything has evolved, and it’s constantly evolving,” he says. “Our hope is to partner with churches and engage them with the communities they’re already in … to bring awareness to the churches, so they understand the issues and how they can be part of the healing process. It’s challenging now because media and culture say so much about who we are.”

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