An historical exhibit developed by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa will be on display in the atrium of the Ka`a`ike Building at UH Maui College from October 16-December 6. The exhibit, “A Source of Light, Constant and Never-Fading,” emphasizes the strong relationship between the people of Kalaupapa and the Royal Family of Hawaii, a chapter of the history of Kalaupapa not often told.
“The ‘Ohana is so excited to bring this exhibit to Maui College, “ said Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa, a resident of Kalaupapa for more than 50 years and President of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. “This is a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Kalaupapa as told by the people themselves.”
A blessing will be held at 6 p.m. October 16 followed by a Powerpoint presentation, “Bringing The Families Home,” by ‘Ohana Coordinator Valerie Monson who will also lead walkthroughs of the exhibit on October 19 and 26 and November 2, all beginning at 1 p.m. The public is invited to all events; there is no charge.
Between 1866 and 1969, an estimated 8,000 people were taken from their families and sent to Kalaupapa because of Hawaii’s leprosy isolation policies. About 5,200 of these individuals were sent to Kalaupapa prior to the annexation of Hawai‘i by the United States, approximately 97% of whom were Native Hawaiian.
Members of the Royal Family were deeply moved by the situation facing so many of their “beloved people” who were sick. They visited Kalaupapa, read petitions, wrote letters, mourned friends who had been taken from their midst and did what they could to make life better for those afflicted with the disease. Leprosy was not an abstract problem, but a very real presence in their lives.
At the same time, the people of Kalaupapa were a source of inspiration through their letters, actions, songs and poetry that reflected a deep love for their country and those who they looked to for support in their attempts to find justice and hope.
The exhibit contains historical and contemporary photographs, excerpts from letters and petitions from the people of Kalaupapa together with the words of members of the Royal Family, including diary entries from Queen Lili‘uokalani when one of her close friends, Kapoli Kamakau, was sent to Kalaupapa. Many of the letters were originally written in Hawaiian. There are also panels devoted to the deep bonds that Father Damien and Mother Marianne – both now Saints – formed with the people of Kalaupapa and the Royal Family.
Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring and remembering every individual who was sent to Kalaupapa. The ‘Ohana encourages teachers, students, family members and anyone with an interest in this important history to visit the exhibit.
With the appearance on Maui, the exhibit will have appeared on the six main islands in the past year.
The exhibit will be available for viewing during the hours that Ka`aike is open: Mondays-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m..
For more information, call 808-984-3289.