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Ka `Ohana O Kalaupapa Gets OHA Grant for Outreach

Community Contributed

By Valerie Monson, Ka `Ohana O Kalaupapa

For many families with ties to Kalaupapa, finding their ancestors who lived in the settlement is like piecing together a puzzle, and many youth today are left in the dark about Kalaupapa’s history. Thanks to a $53,665 grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs awarded to organization Ka `Ohana O Kalaupapa, school outreach and the restoration of family ties programs will become possible.

“The ‘Ohana thanks OHA for having confidence in us to help teachers include the history of Kalaupapa in their classrooms and to continue our efforts to assist descendants of the people of Kalaupapa obtain information about their kupuna,” said Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa, President of the `Ohana and a resident of Kalaupapa for more than 50 years.

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa President Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa surrounded by 5th grade teachers at Kamehameha Schools Kapalama campus in 2011. The ‘Ohana worked with the teachers and students to produce the play, “Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa.” Photo courtesy of Mara Bacon Chang

When the `Ohana traveled around the islands a year ago to hold community presentations and workshops, one of the most common comments was from adults who had grown up in Hawaii, but had never learned about the history of Kalaupapa in school. Teachers who attended those events said it was difficult for them to know what information about Kalaupapa was truth – and what was fiction.

“We felt this was an immediate need,” said Kahilihiwa. “The children of today are our tomorrow. We want our students to learn about this important history – and we want to provide teachers with the proper tools to be able to include the history of Kalaupapa in their classrooms.”

The `Ohana has developed a historical exhibit that will visit the different islands as part of the schools program. This exhibit, “A Source of Light, Constant and Never-Fading,” emphasizes the strong relationship between the people of Kalaupapa and Hawaii’s Royal Family, a chapter of history often overlooked. This exhibit, a traveling version of an exhibit created by the `Ohana that is on display at `Iolani Palace, features historical photos, excerpts from letters originally written in Hawaiian, quotes and lyrics of songs written by the people of Kalaupapa.

The traveling exhibit opened last month in the library of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where it will remain through Nov. 26, open to students and faculty as well as the general community. Nearly 100 people – including family members whose ancestors were at Kalaupapa – attended the blessing and opening day of the exhibit. The exhibit will be on display at Kalaupapa in early January and move to topside Molokai after that.

The `Ohana schools outreach program emphasizes reaching out to the Hawaiian-focused charter schools, but will also include other schools. Any teacher can contact the `Ohana to receive materials to help them include Kalaupapa in their curriculum.

For the past few years, the `Ohana has been assisting descendants of the people of Kalaupapa learn about their ancestors who they might never have known by gathering information from various public archives in Honolulu, on the mainland and in Europe. The `Ohana has already compiled the names of everyone listed in The Kalaupapa Admissions Register from 1866-1932 and assembled those names into a searchable database. That database also includes other information the ‘Ohana has compiled by searching through other public records, letters, petitions and church minutes.

To learn how to obtain school materials or help in finding a Kalaupapa ancestor, email info@kalaupapaohana.org, send a letter to Ka `Ohana O Kalaupapa, PO Box 1111, Kalaupapa, Hawaii 96742 or call `Ohana Coordinator Valerie Monson at 808-573-2746.


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