The Women's Community Correctional Center has four new helpers: goats
The Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua has four new helpers, goats from the Big Island. It's part of a program called Learn to Grow. For some of the inmates, the furry friends are seen as tools for healing.
"One other woman was saying the other day, they're my babies. It's like my kids. I love them so much. That's a really incredible thing to hear - that emotion and connection to something," Kate Wiechmann, Learn to Grow Program Coordinator, said.
Wiechmann believes caring for the goats helps inmates as they re-integrate into our communities. She believes communication, responsibility and care are important skills needed in society.
Over the past seven months, up to 15 women behind bars work with the goats between two to five hours per day
"I've watched them grow and now they're being very productive," Hyacinth Poouahi, Learn to Grow program participant, said. "Getting the feel of being needed and because they're wonderful pets to have."
Poouahi says working with the animals without supervision is a privilege and it shows trust. She hopes to turn her experiences into a career when she gets out in two years.
"I'm planning to get a green job. Now that I'm qualified to do a lot of things," Poouahi said.
Not only are the goats therapeutic, they're also going to help clear acres and acres of invasive species at the facility. The idea sparked during a casual conversation one day.
"One of the women mentioned she grown up with goats on the Big Island to help control their land and we thought what an incredible idea," Wiechmann said.
The goats are also part of a bigger project at the state facility: teaching the ladies how to plant, harvest and sell some of the produce grown in their 120-acre garden.
"It helps me get out to the aina and it lets me nurture plants and whatever I may be feeling for that day. I get it out of my system by coming down here and working," Poouahi said.
As the goats grow, hope is, so are some of the wahine caring for them. There's also hope for eight more goats to help clear more land at WCCC but the facility needs more fencing to prevent them from running off.