Kalaupapa group receives $10,000 CARES funding

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa recently received a $10,000 HIHumanities Cares Act Grant made possible by Hawai’i Council for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Humanities.

The funding was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability Act (CARES Act) appropriated by the U.S. Congress.

Ka ‘Ohana was one of 38 organizations in Hawaii selected to receive the funding administered by the Hawai’i Council for the Humanities. The grant will be applied to operational and program expenses so Ka ‘Ohana can adapt and sustain community outreach efforts during the pandemic.

“We can’t thank the Hawai’i Council for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities for making these grants possible,” said Valerie Monson, executive director of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. “Like so many other nonprofits, Ka ‘Ohana has been hit hard by the impacts of COVID-19, seriously limiting our ability to raise funds. It’s very hard to ask for donations when we know that so many people in Hawaii are struggling just to make ends meet.”

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, a nonprofit organization founded in 2003, is dedicated to honoring and remembering each of the nearly 8,000 men, women and children who were taken from their families and forcibly isolated on the Kalaupapa peninsula from 1866 through 1969 because of government policies regarding leprosy, now also called Hansen’s disease. Ka ‘Ohana was the idea of the late Kalaupapa visionary Bernard K. Punikai’a.

Until recently, the names of many of those sent to Kalaupapa and their places in history have been mostly forgotten. Fewer than 1,000 graves can still be identified. Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa has now compiled the names of approximately 7,800 of those who were sent to Kalaupapa along with additional information about their lives. The names will be displayed on The Kalaupapa Memorial, making sure the people of Kalaupapa are forever part of the landscape.

Monson said the results of the funding are already apparent.

“Thanks to this grant, Ka ‘Ohana has continued to keep our programs going, including our Restoration of Family Ties program, which helps families learn more about their ancestors who were sent to Kalaupapa,” she said. “We’ve also added new information to our website, continuing our work on the names of those sent to Kalaupapa and planning for how we can keep growing and connecting with people in the era of social distancing.”

For more information, visit the website www.kalaupapaohana.org, which contains educational materials developed by Ka ‘Ohana to view or download at no charge, information about the Kalaupapa Memorial, a photo gallery and a 5-minute video by Ka ‘Ohana that serves as a brief introduction to the people and the history of Kalaupapa.


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