Photo Essay: Kalaupapa Memories, Molokai, Hawaii
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One of the Hawaiian words for Hansen’s disease is mai hookaawale—the disease that separates. In the 19th Century, it did just that. Sufferers were quarantined on Kalaupapa, not only isolating them geographically, but separating husbands from wives, and children from their families. The quarantine was lifted in 1969, but by that time Kalaupapa had become home, and many patients chose to stay. A new book, Ili Na Hoomanao o Kalaupapa, Casting Remembrances of Kalaupapa, tells the town’s story in detail. Here, we’ve selected images from renowned photographer Wayne Levin, who contributed to the book. All were taken between 1984 and 1987. Quotes from patients in the following pages are taken from videotaped oral histories collected by Anwei Skinsnes Law in the 1980s, and later selected for this book. At the time Levin shot the photos, about 100 residents still lived in Kalaupapa; today, it’s fewer than 20.