Sponsored by Hawaii Gas
In 2018, Project Vision launched Hiehie, the first free mobile shower service dedicated to helping Oahu’s homeless. While the service provides hot showers, it also provides a conduit for communication towards the next steps in moving out of homelessness and regaining a fresh start in life. Hiehie will soon be expanding with another unit on Hawaii Island. HI Now host Jobeth Devera is with Project Vision’s executive director Annie Valentin and Jeannine Souki from Hawaii Gas to talk about how this partnership is helping the community.
Since Hiehie’s launch, 1,945 showers have been provided to the homeless, helping 900 unique individuals to cleanse themselves physically and spiritually. Valentin says that that’s 40 percent of Oahu’s unsheltered population, explaining that 15 percent of those using Hiehie are people who haven’t accessed shelters in a while.
Hiehie uses propane from Hawaii Gas to heat up the water, and the company anticipates providing about 2,500 lbs. of propane for use on both islands. “This is a very critical need for our state and community because homelessness has been the foremost concern of most of our residents,” Souki said.
Propane is portable and efficient for heating water and cooking, amongst other uses. In some areas with poor sun exposure and limited or no grid connection, propane is used to run other appliances like refrigerators. In areas affected by devastation or limited infrastructure, propane is a clean, efficient and affordable source of energy.
Project Vision believes that all human beings have an inborne dignity which cannot be diminished, and Hiehie is the Hawaiian way to express this inalienable sense of dignity. It believes access to bathing facilities is a basic human right and hopes to help individuals experiencing homelessness to remember that they can still project their dignity to the world.
Heihei’s supporting homeless with bathing and basic hygiene, helps to reduce infections and disease, improving an individual’s sense of self-worth, and allowing those experiencing homelessness to connect with basic social and community services without having to walk through an office door.