Capturing Moments of Kalaupapa

Lately, there’s been nothing but good news for the Molokai leprosy settlement of Kalaupapa. Despite it once being a place of loneliness and sadness, Kalaupapa has now become a sight of closure for families who lost loved ones to the deadly disease.

There are currently less than 20 surviving patients living on this isolated peninsula.

Many years later, after getting the go ahead from President Barack Obama, these families are now working diligently to construct a memorial in remembrance of the deceased patients laid to rest in unmarked graves. Seven thousand unmarked graves, to be exact. Also this year, an important figure of Kalaupapa had been canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. Mother Marianne Cope joined Father Damien, both of whom cared for Kalaupapa leprosy patients in the 1880s, as Hawaii’s two saints.

Today, the unique history of this place lives on and has been captured through the works of local photographer Wayne Levin. From 1984 to 1987, he was invited to document the Molokai settlement. The photos eventually culminated into a book published a few years later, called Kalaupapa: A Portrait. While it has been out of print for several years, more photos have been compiled for a second book that’s expected to publish later this year.

Wayne sets up his Honolulu Hale display of photos at Kalaupapa.

You can see his works on display until June 5, 2012 at the Honolulu Hale. “Kalaupapa: E Hoohanohano a E Hoomau” honors and perpetuates the settlement and the role it has played in developing our island history.

KALAUPAPA EXHIBIT • May 17 to June 5, 8am-4pm weekdays (Free) • Honolulu Hale, 1000 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, HI 96813

Photo Credit: City & County of Honolulu

Posted by: Bruce Fisher