Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Their Own Words

In the past, both patients and visitors to Kalawao and Kalaupapa wrote about their impressions and experiences. First-hand accounts reveal how people felt about being sent to this remote place, and of the conditions they faced. The following quotes offer some insight into patient life as seen from the standpoint of the patients themselves.

Ambrose T. Hutchison, resident in the settlement from 1879-1932
“On the night of the 4th day of January 1879 about seven p.m. I with 11 other fellow sufferers were lined up in two by two file by our jailer (each of us carrying our own baggage) guarded on each side by a squad of policemen were taken from the leper detention station...and put aboard the SS Mokolii lying along side the pier at the foot of Fort Street. After a half-hour wait for two Government Officials, Sam G. Wilder President of the Board of Health and Dr. N.B. Emerson newly appointed first resident physician of the Leper Settlement of Kalawao. When they arrived and came aboard the steamer the line was cast off, the steamer moved out into the habor and steamed out to sea bound for Molokai and arrived off Kalaupapa the next morning 7 a.m. when the steamer anchored we entered a row boat with the two officials and rowed to the Kalaupapa landing and put ashore and [were] received by the local officials of the Leper Settlement. After our names, ages and places we hailed from were taken down, left on the rocky shore without food and shelter. No houses provided by the then Government for the like of us outcasts.”
- Ambrose T. Hutchison, resident in the settlement from 1879-1932

Peter Kaeo, cousin of Queen Emma, in a letter to Queen Emma, August 11, 1873

Peter Young Kaeo Kekuaokalani March 4, 1836 - November 26, 1880 was a Hawaiian prince and cousin of Queen Emma of Hawaii also the grandson oJohn Young Olohana advisor to Kamehameha the Great. Peter was born March 4, 1836 at Pa'loha, Honolulu on the island of O'ahu. He was born into a noble Hawaiian family. His mother was Jane Lahilahi, the youngest daughter of John Young and Ka'o'ana'eha. His father was The Hon. Joshua Kaeo, sometime Judge of the Supreme Court of Hawaii, and great grandson of King Kalaniopuu. He was, according to Hawaiian tradition, hanaied (adopted) by his maternal uncle John Kaleipaihala Young at birth. His uncle was the fourth Kuhina Nui and the Minister of the Interior. He was chosen by Kamehameha III to attended Chiefs'Children's School along with his cousin Emma because of their descent from Kealiimaikai, Kamehameha III's uncle. The school was ran by Amos Starr Cooke and Julliette Montague Cooke an American missionary couple. He was declared eligible to succeed the Hawaiian throne by the Royal Order of Kamehameha III. He serve as a member of the House of Nobles and assisted in formulating laws of kingdom. He also served as Aide-de-camp to Kamehameha IV.

He contracted leprosy, known as Hansen's disease, which was uncurable at the time. He was exiled and isolated to the leper colony at Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. He arrived on the settlement on the same boat as William P. Ragsdale, landing June 29 1873. He had the means to maintain a comfortable existence for himself, including two servants, but was not unaware of the poverty and desperation around him. During his exile at Kalaupapa, he and his cousin Emma Kaleleonalani, at the time Queen Dowager of Hawaii, exchange letters revealing record of their personal lives during this three-year period.

From Peter Kaeo to Queen Emma, August 11, 1873:

"Deaths occur quite frequently here, almost dayly. Napela (the Mormon elder and assistant supervisor of the Kalaupapa Settlement) last week rode around the Beach to inspeck the Lepers and came on to one that had no Pai [taro] for a Week but manage to live on what he could find in his Hut, anything Chewable. His legs were so bad that he cannot walk, and few traverse the spot where His Hut stands, but fortunate enough for him that he had sufficient enough water to last him till aid came and that not too late, or else probably he must have died."

In November 26, 1880 at the age 44, he died at Kalawao, after 7 years of suffering on the leper colony. Yet the Hawaiian Gazette, Dec. 1, 1880 has to say: The Hon. P. Y. Kaeo died at his residence on Emma Street on Friday night [November 26, 1880]. The funeral took place on Sunday and was largely attended by the retainers and friends of the family. The hearse was surrounded by Kahili-bearers as becomes the dignity of a chief.

- Peter Kaeo, cousin of Queen Emma, in a letter to Queen Emma, August 11, 1873

Male, Part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78
“Like the other patients, they caught me at school. It was on the Big Island. I was twelve then. I cried like the dickens for my mother and for my family. But the Board of Health didn’t waste no time in those days. They sent me to Honolulu, to Kalihi Receiving Station, real fast. Then they sent me to Kalaupapa. That’s where they sent most of us. Most came to die.”
- Male, Part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78

Female, Hawaiian, c. 1977-78
“I remained in Kalaupapa for thirty years. I was finally paroled in 1966. My mother was still alive, so I wrote to her and told her I was finally cured. I could come home. After a long while, her letter came. She said, ‘Don’t come home. You stay at Kalaupapa.’ I wrote her back and said I wanted to just visit, to see the place where I was born. Again, she wrote back. This time she said, ‘No, you stay there.’ You see, my mother had many friends and I think she felt shame before them. I was disfigured, even though I was cured. So, she told me, her daughter, ‘Don’t come home.’ She said, ‘You stay right where you are. Stay there, and leave your bones at Kalaupapa. This place is finally my real home. They take good care of me here.”
- Female, Hawaiian, c. 1977-78

Male, Hawaiian, c. 1977-78
“You know, the babies that were born inside here were not allowed to stay with their parents. After the babies were born, the law said they had to be taken away to the baby nursery in Kalaupapa. They were afraid of the contact—afraid the babies would catch the disease from their parents…. But some of my children, I will tell you this, some of them I kept longer. Most times, the babies were born in the night. We kept everyone quiet so the administrators and nurses would not hear the baby being born. All my babies were born in my own home, right here."
- Male, Hawaiian, c. 1977-78

Male, part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78
“One of the worst things about this illness is what was done to me as a young boy. First, I was sent away from my family. That was hard. I was so sad to go to Kalaupapa. They told me right out that I would die here; that I would never see my family again. I heard them say this phrase, something I will never forget. They said, ‘This is your last place. This is where you are going to stay, and die.’ That’s what they told me. I was a thirteen-year-old kid.”
- Male, part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78

Male, part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78
“When I arrived at Kalaupapa, I was the youngest child inside the place. My father was waiting for me when I arrived, along with many of his friends. All the people took me in, and I became like everyone’s child. It was really one big family in here, an ohana. I had everything…so much love! I was spoiled rotten. I even had the nuns taking care of me.”
- Male, part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78

Official photo left, taken in Oct 1934, providing her with her patient identification number.
Olivia Robello Breitha (1916-2006)
Olivia Robello Breitha's life was "ordinary and uneventful" until 1934. That year when she was 18 yrs. of age, about to be married and happily living with ther family, she was told she had leprosy. In those days, all those diagnosed with this disease in Hawaii were forcibly taken from family, friends and community and isolated on the remote peninsula known as Kalaupapa. Olivia lived at Kalaupapa for 73 yrs. during which time a cure for leprosy had been discovered, the isolation laws have been abondoned and Kalaupapa designated as a National Historical Park for the education and inspiration of present and future generations. Olivia traveled to different states and other countries but chose to live out her life at Kalaupapa - her home. This is where she fell in love, married Johnny Breitha and chose not tohave children because she knew they would be taken away from her at birth. This is where she wrote her autobiograpby and made a documentary with Tim Baker a 32 yr. old man who has since died from Aids, continuing to fight for her own rights and those of others.
Documentary Review Olivia & Tim Click Here >>>>>>

“The administration office…had a railing around the ‘boss’ (administrator) and there was a bench set against the wall where the patient sat. When Mr. Judd [Lawrence Judd, former Governor of Hawai`i who later became a Kalaupapa superintendent] came, the first thing that came down was the railing in his office. Then came the chain link fence in the caller house at the visitors’ quarters. That gave us a feeling that we, the patients, almost belonged to the human race again. You cannot imagine how much a simple thing like a fence and a railing coming down meant to me. I’m sure it had the same effect on all the patients.”
- Olivia Robello Breitha,

No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

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