Skip to main content


After Wildfire, Hawai‘i Unites in Prayer

Maui members renew their determination together with Pacific Zone leaders.

LAHAINA, Hawai‘i—On the Sunday after the wildfires, 19 members and guests came to the Maui Buddhist Center, many bearing the weight of losing their town and all that went with it. At their weekly Soka 2030 meeting, the gathering took on a deeper meaning as their voices blended together, united in prayer, for the safety of their ‘ohana, for the recovery of their island.

Undefeated—Homes and businesses destroyed by wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii, August 2023. Photo by The Asahi Shimbun/ Getty Images.

The wildfires, fueled by hurricane-force winds, swept through Maui on Aug. 8,
destroying their historic town and killing more than 100 people (as of Aug. 23) in what authorities describe as the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.

The Treasured Island Region team began outreach efforts immediately to confirm the safety and well-being of Lahaina District members. As of Aug. 23, 100% of the members were located and confirmed safe. The team is continuing its outreach efforts, which remain difficult amid Lahaina’s dismantled infrastructure. 

In the meantime, the wildfires were reported to Ikeda Sensei, who is sending daimoku for the total safety and well-being of all members and residents in the affected areas.

The SGI-USA Maui Buddhist Center, located 24 miles to the east in Wailuku, has been open daily for members to chant and receive supplies, including water, dry goods and battery-powered mobile phone chargers.

Members in Maui unite in prayer at the Maui Buddhist Center, Aug. 17, 2023. Photo by Joey Toro.

Jonny Price and Rena Takushi, the Pacific Zone leader and women’s leader, respectively, traveled to the island just days after the fire to offer essential support and deliver relief supplies on behalf of the SGI-USA.

Mr. Price said he was humbled by the members’ response at receiving supplies, many of them blinking back tears. “Their sense of appreciation is incredible,” he said.

As a harbinger of hope, Soka Family Day was held on Aug. 13 at the Maui center with seven future division members present, their faces shining with youthful brilliance.

Future division members gather for Soka Family Day at the SGI-USA Maui Buddhist Center, Aug. 13, 2023.

From the time of the fires, Pacific Zone members have been chanting united daimoku from their homes for Maui’s recovery from 6 to 8 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Pacific Zone leaders will continue traveling to the island to deliver additional supplies and offer essential support.

Chiara La Piana, the Treasured Island Region young women’s leader, barely escaped the fire with her mother, Sylvia. The hotel where she was previously employed offered them free boarding.

“There are many youth here, and they are all overwhelmed as well,” she said. The other day, she showed her friend the Gohonzon, which she had enshrined in her hotel room.

“I’m so thankful to be a disciple of Sensei, to have Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the Gohonzon,” Ms. La Piana said. “If I didn’t have these things, I wouldn’t be able to handle everything and take the lead in my family.”

Her feelings were tangibly expressed on her white T-shirt, bedecked with a heart that she shaded with the SGI tricolors of blue, yellow and red.

On the back, she scrawled with a marker: “I’m not a victim. I’m a disciple of Sensei.”

On the front: “Lahaina. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.”

Chiara La Piana, Treasured Island Region young women’s leader, remains undefeated despite losing her home. Her T-shirt reads on the front: “Lahaina. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” On the back: “I’m not a victim. I’m a disciple of Sensei!”

September 1, 2023, World Tribune, p. 4

Eternally Together on Our Journey of Kosen-rufu

Unlocking My Infinite Potential