She can’t be more than 6 or 7 years old, but she shows no hesitation when a reporter and photographer approach her outside her family’s tent in a homeless camp in the Kakaako area of Honolulu.
“Do you have propane or diapers?” she asks, making it clear that she will accept either — or cash.
She says her name is Emichan, and she has lived on the streets for much of her family’s two-year stay in Hawaii. They are from Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, and Chuukese, Marshallese and other Micronesians have steadily been joining the ranks of Oahu’s homeless population.
Emichan’s family — her little sister Mymy, her mother Lusia Pulusou and aunt Ketely Josua — are homeless in Honolulu because they left Chuuk to get medical help for the family patriarch, Litang Pulusou.
Pulusou suffers from diabetes and regularly visits Kalihi-Palama Health Center. He removes one of his shoes to show that his health woes recently led to the amputation of a toe.
Why would a family emigrate from their island home only to live on the streets of Honolulu?
Because they need to — there is no dialysis in Chuuk and the economy is very weak.
And because they can — a treaty between the United States and three Micronesian nations allows for relatively easy entry into this country.