Bahá’ís Contribute to Maui Relief and Recovery Effort

Bahá’ís across the Hawaiian Islands—and from around the Pacific and the mainland United States—are responding to the crisis resulting from the wildfires in Maui. 

Bahá’í communities on Maui have made decisive contributions to relief and recovery efforts. Initiatives range from distribution of goods, feeding the houseless, joining community members in prayer for assistance during this time of acute peril, offering emotional support, helping with activities for children, advising on resources, caring for wounded animals, service through professional activities, and providing shelter for those displaced.

Several homes of Bahá’í families were destroyed in the fires. One Bahá’í, Ms. Salote Tone, died along with three members of her family.

Across the Hawaiian Islands, Bahá’ís and their friends have responded with the spirit of aloha and generosity by donating money, purchasing goods and supplies, and applying their talents and professional expertise to initiatives at the state level to support long-term recovery efforts. 

“Our hearts continue to be touched by the outpouring of prayers for Maui accompanied by donations to the Humanitarian Relief Fund coming from across the United States, at the rate of more than ten a day,” said Mollie Sperry, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the Hawaiian islands. “Individuals and local Bahá’í Assemblies from Washington to Florida; Arizona to Georgia; California to Delaware have contributed. We are honored to be a trusted resource for aid.”

Equally valued were the prayers, expressions of love, and offers of assistance coming from sister Bahá’í communities throughout the Pacific, including Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Australia, the Leeward Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Mariana Islands, Caroline Islands, New Zealand, and French Polynesia.

Bahá’ís across the Hawaiian Islands joined the Kīpuni Aloha no Maui, a statewide vigil on 1 September. Sixty-five public and private vigils were set up, with 1,500 individuals attending the public ceremonies and 65,000 watching live on social media. The Bahá’ís of Kauaʻi, through the Waimea Local Spiritual Assembly and the Bahá’ís of Lāhainā, hosted public prayers. Further, Bahá’ís were privileged to offer prayers at Kawaiahaʻo Church and Thomas Square on O‘ahu and at Keawanui Fishpond on Molokaʻi. 

“The binding spirit of solidarity in aloha and prayer for Maui was tangible,” said Ms. Sperry, “and foundational for more occasions for interfaith prayer gatherings. In Bahá’í communities, devotional meetings focused on bringing spiritual and emotional comfort and support to those affected by the events on Maui continue to be held. Devotional gatherings offer unremitting support for the people impacted by the fires of Maui.”

Support also came from the Bahá’í International Development Organization. Hawaiʻi’s Humanitarian Relief Fund has been able to support households with immediate needs, as well as broader relief efforts. The National Spiritual Assembly has donated to the efforts of the wider community through the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation.

“In His writings,” noted Ms. Sperry, “Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, calls on the Bahá’ís to be a ‘balm to the suffering,’ a ‘joy to the sorrowful,’ a ‘haven for the distressed’ and a ‘breath of life to the body of mankind.’ With a humanitarian crisis in our midst, Bahá’í communities across the nation have responded accordingly and have been further stirred to action, especially those in Maui. The response of individuals, institutions, and communities around humanitarian relief remains nothing short of extraordinary.”

Banyon Tree

Caption: The famous Lāhaina banyan tree is showing signs of new growth following the devastating August 8 fire. Credit: Department of Land and Natural Resources

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