MOLOAA — All the rain in Moloaa couldn’t dampen the spirits of the more than 120 women and girls at Retro Farms on Saturday — at play in the fields, drinking homemade smoothies from an outdoor stand and planting new seedlings in the dirt.
“It’s great to see girls of different ages here,” said Sandra Naihe, who leads troops of Brownie and Daisy Girl Scouts on the island. “The girls that came with us are probably the youngest here, they’re 6 and 7, but they get to be together with and learn from the older girls.”
The women, mostly youth with a few mentors for guidance, were gathered for the 2nd annual Pink Pineapple Project at Retro Farms, a program designed to empower girls of the community in a day of feasting, farming and friends.
The girls were split into five groups and rotated through activities, ranging from planting pineapple and echinacea to painting necklaces and learning about pollinators. They also stopped at the Coastal Observation Classroom on the Retro Farms Property, which overlooks the ocean, and talked with Melanie Slimko of Kapaa about self-esteem and their identity as young women.
“Sometimes it’s really hard for us to be able to say the things we like about ourselves,” Slimko told one group of girls that was eating pineapple upside-down cake in the observation classroom. “You can like things about yourself and be proud of those things without being boastful; actually, it’s really good to do that.”
Slimko had each of the girls list five things they liked about themselves and put their names on the top of the paper as a way of reminding themselves.
“By strengthening the morale of our island girls, we give them the tools to believe in themselves,” said Mary Ellen Pearlman, organizer of the Pink Pineapple Project.
Last year, the event drew around 60 participants of different ages and Pearlman was ecstatic to double the size of the event this year.
Pearlman kicked off Saturday morning’s activities by leading a chant — the same chant used as the theme last year: “I am a girl. I am smart. I am strong. I can do anything.”
One participant was Janna Pekaar of Seattle, who is on vacation for a week and walked by the sign early Saturday morning.
“I’m all about empowering young women, and I heard a little more about this event, and I decided I had to come out and volunteer,” Pekaar said. “I leave tomorrow and this is a really worthwhile thing to do.”
Leilani Leger and Malia Barnett, both 11, attended the Pink Pineapple Project for the second year and were surprised to see the pineapples they planted last year had grown several feet.
“Maybe next year we’ll harvest the ones we planted last year,” Leger said.