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Kalaupapa, The Leper Colony
Dedicated to Sister Marianne Cope
Submitted by Anonymous
For 35 years, my husband and I have had the privilidge of visiting Hawaii and experiencing the warm friendliness of it's people, it's pristine beaches and stunning sunsets. Hawaii represents in many of us from the mainland an idealic location for romantic love.
This year we experienced the unfolding of one of the world's great dramas and enduring love. As guests of Fr. Joseph Hendricks, of Kalaupapa, we spent four days learning of the traggic epic that began in 1840 and which continues to this day. Lepers, most were native Hawaiians, were forcebly shipped off to a small tongue of land of Molikai. The land is surrounded on three sides by water and backed by 2000 ft. cliffs! To this day Kalapapa is still isolated, accessable only by surefooted mules who know their way down the precarious cliff or by an air shuttle. Fr Damien de Veuster, a Belgian Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, volunteered to administer to these most unfortunate human beings. On his arrival he found living conditions of the Lepers to be sub human. Through his tireless efforts he was able to improve the conditions of the Lepers.
Before he died of Leprosy in 1888, he was successful in getting Sister Marianne Cope and three sisters of the Sister of St.Francis, of Syracuse, N.Y., to staff the hospital, nurse the sick and establish a residence for young girls. Sister Marianne promised through hygienic practises, that none of the sisters would develop Leprosy, none did, including the remaining two sisters that now staff the Hospital in Kalaupapa.
There are 35 patients who have Leprosy now known as Hansen's disease, who choose to remain in Kalaupapa. Because of modern drugs, Hansen's disease is one of the least contageous communicable deseases. The patients are free to come and go and some do. Those who stay will eventually join some eight thousand residents of the dreaded disease who are interned in many cemetries in Kalaupapa. Thus closing the tragic chapter of human suffering and selfless love. Kalaupapa will not be forgotten! The Federal Government has recognized the historical importance of Kalaupapa in creating in and adjacent areas as a National Park. The Church has Beatified Father Damien and in May will Beatify Mother Marianne Cope. Kalaupapa is a place that for over a century and a half, where men and women, of extraordinary courage and selflessness gave their love and their lives in helping the most afflicted of humans.
This is a Hawaiian story ignited by the flame of love of God and man which will burn throughout the centuries