Kalaupapa Talk Story Session Coming Up

All are invited for one-on-one talks July 31.

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa hosted a booth at the 2007 Conference for Native Hawaiian Advancement in Honolulu. ‘Ohana supporters include (from left): Piolani Motta of Honolulu, Boogie Kahilihiwa of Kalaupapa, Ivy Kahilihiwa of Kalaupapa and Pauline Puahala Hess of Honolulu.

By Valerie Monson 

Those who may have had relatives who were sent away to live in Kalaupapa will get an opportunity research their lineage on July 31at Home Pumehana.

A list of 200 people from topside Molokai who were sent to Kalaupapa will be available. If you think you might have an ancestor on the list, you are invited to check it out and learn how to find out more information about your family member.

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, who will be hosting the talk-story session, is a nonprofit organization made up of Kalaupapa patients, their family members, friends, and descendents of anyone sent to Kalaupapa since 1866.

Those interested are invited to come any time between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 31 at Home Pumehana in the main hall.

Topside residents will also be able to get a better understanding of the mission and goals of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, which is an independent organization that will be hosting the talk-story session. 

“We think this will be a great opportunity to let people topside know what the ‘Ohana has done and some of the things that we’re working on,” said President of the ‘Ohana Kuulei Bell, a resident of Kalaupapa for more than 50 years.. “We hope to see some old friends at this gathering and make new friends, too.”

Four other Kalaupapa residents are members of the Board of Directors: Gloria Marks, Makia Malo, Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa and Pauline Chow. The  original 13-member board was chosen by a group of Kalaupapa patients.

The ‘Ohana was established in 2003 to support the community, make sure that the voices of the residents are included in decisions that impact Kalaupapa and guarantee that the history is accurately passed down to future generations.

The idea for creating the ‘Ohana came from longtime human rights activist Bernard K. Punikai`a, who was sent to Kalaupapa in 1942 as a young boy with leprosy (now called Hansen’s disease). With the residents getting older, Mr. Punikai`a felt that a strong group of supporters, including family members, was essential for the community’s well-being. Mr. Punikai`a serves as Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Some of the ‘Ohana accomplishments include helping to coordinate the effort that reinstated dialysis services at the Kalaupapa Care Home, convincing state and federal leaders to hold monthly community meetings and introducing a bill to Congress that would establish a Monument at Kalaupapa that will eventually list all the names of the people who were sent there. Last summer, the ‘Ohana compiled a list of the names of the first 5,000 people who were taken from their families and sent to Kalaupapa. The Kalaupapa Memorial Act, which would authorize the Monument, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 12 and is awaiting action in the U.S. Senate.

Earlier this year, the ‘Ohana proposed and wrote the resolution that was adopted by the Hawaii State Legislature which acknowledged the great sacrifices made by the people of Kalaupapa and their families, and also apologized for the pain of the harsh separation. The resolution was the idea of the late Kalaupapa leader Paul Harada.

For more information, see the ‘Ohana website at www.kalaupapaohana.org or email info@kalaupapaohana.org


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