‘Part of the healing’: Long-awaited memorial will honor those banished to Kalaupapa

A fitting tribute is finally on its way for the residents of Kalaupapa.
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 4:12 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 5, 2022 at 4:26 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A fitting tribute is finally on its way for the residents of Kalaupapa.

Gov. David Ige recently signed off on $5 million to fund a memorial dedicated to the thousands sent to the Hansen’s Disease colony.

Those with close ties to Kalaupapa have been working on this project for nearly four decades and say to have it soon come to life is “momentous.”

“To finally get to this point, it’s almost hard to put it into words,” said Valerie Monson, Ka Ohana o Kalaupapa executive director. “It’s almost hard to believe.”

Monson says discussions for the memorial stretch back to the 1980s.

Talks spearheaded by the residents themselves who were banished to Molokai for suffering from Hansen’s disease.

When completed, the memorial will feature two interlocking circles.

The upper one will list the nearly 8,000 names of the people sent to Kalaupapa.

“And then the lower circle represents the families who were left behind and the future descendants,” Monson said.

“Then where the circles come together, which is under that lattice work, is what the ohana has always envisioned of bringing the people of Kalaupapa and their families and descendants back together again.”

Charmaine Woodward knows the significance of having a memorial in place.

Her great-grandparents were sent to Kalaupapa as teenagers in the late 1800s and never left.

While the colony represents a dark chapter in Hawaii’s history, this memorial will make sure the names of those who lived there and their resilience is never forgotten.

“It’s emotional and I think that emotion, the more and more you go and the more and more you visit, you see what your kupuna went through and then you talk about it,” Woodward said.

“It becomes part of the healing. Seeing their names is an acknowledgement of their sacrifice for us.”

Ka Ohana o Kalaupapa says construction is expected to begin soon and the hope is to have the memorial completed by 2024.

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