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Dilemma in Paradise
Is it really heaven on earth?
Our little town of La’ie. It is a wonderful place to raise a family. We have beautiful beaches and the climate is moderate year round. It is a melting pot of cultures with the local university, BYU-Hawaii, taking in students from over 70 different countries
When we moved here, our children were in junior high, high school and college. They were welcomed in and tremendously enjoyed their experiences. Two of our boys were active in band at Kahuku High School. It was a strong program and they still love to share their music. They also participated in Vocal Motion , a singing/dance group that boosted their self esteem and helped them overcome stage fright. Our youngest son has continued to pursue his dream of being a song writer/singer and is known as Cubworld with his music available on youtube, itunes and amazon
Even though our children have married and moved away to have their own families, they still consider La’ie as their home. They would all love to come back to live. The problem is that it is very expensive to live here, job opportunities in all fields are limited, and there are not enough affordable houses.
We rent a small townhouse from the local university – BYU-Hawaii. We cultivate gardens and produce some of our own food. Most of our time is spent working at BYU Hawaii, and shop in La’ie for our food (which is about twice as expensive as in the mainland). Why don’t we just leave to a less expensive place? Some things are worth more than money. We don’t mind living frugally. We enjoy the culture, character and beauty of La’ie so much.
I can look out my bedroom window and see the Laie Hawaii Temple which brings me peace. We can visit the beaches on holidays with our grandchildren. The people are very friendly and service oriented. We feel that since we are a multi-cultural couple that this is the perfect place for us. We have a bit of Polynesia and a bit of America all in one place.
However, we are currently facing quite a dilemma in La’ie. It is not sustainable the way it is now. It needs to grow larger. Most of us who live here do not want it to lose the “country feel” it now has. Currently the only thing keeping it “afloat” in this difficult economy is the local university, BYU Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center which is tourist based, and the Hawaii Reserves which is run by the LDS Church and owns quite a bit of the land and resources. If any one of those things were to be unsuccessful, La’ie would be very hurt.
There is currently a push from community members and leaders to enlarge La’ie and let in more businesses, so there will be enough jobs in the area to sustain the community. They have also proposed a housing development which is greatly needed.
So many people have had to leave La’ie, their beloved home, to be able to find jobs to provide for their families. They have sacrificed much to leave, and their hearts will always draw them back to La’ie.
We who are still here have to remain optimistic for the future as we continue to have an open and robust dialogue that supports a thriving community. Children will thrive only if their families and community thrive. It takes a whole village to raise a child although ours are gone, we hope they will someday be able to return to beloved La’ie.