Transcribing Means Healing

Women’s Community Correctional Center inmates celebrated Kamehameha Day with a luau and hula performance that they had long practiced for. But at the core of the June 13 Kailua event for them was a more lasting step publicly taken before invited guests.

About 50 of the women have signed up with the nonprofit Awaiaulu to help transcribe pages from Hawaiian language newspapers written between 1834 and 1948. Known as ‘Ike Ku’oko’a: Liberating Knowledge, The Newspaper Typescripting Project, the Awaiaulu initiative is recruiting volunteers from across the state and the globe to help. Hawaiian language scholar Puakea Nogelmeier spearheads the effort.

“The women incarcerated here realize the value of preserving Hawaiian history, and many eagerly volunteered to help,” said warden Mark Patterson, noting that the prison system donated four computers for the project’s newest transcribers.

Closely linked with the newspaper project that day was a presentation by textbook author Keanu Sai, historical documentary producer Kaui Sai-Dudoit and Pu’a Foundation executive director Toni Bissen, who addressed women enrolled in WCCC’s Trauma Informed Care Initiative.

The guest speakers introduced to the inmates an experimental learning process, ‘Ua Mau Ko Ea/Ike Ku’oko’a.

By transcribing pages, Bissen explained, “The women at WCCC will more clearly understand and link past events and experiences of Hawaiians and others to their present positions in the community and the world.” All of which enables healing and reconciliation.