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January marks first Kalaupapa Month

January 2022 marks the first Kalaupapa Month as proposed by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa to remember the people of Kalaupapa and their important history.

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa is a nonprofit organization made up of Kalaupapa residents, family members, descendants and friends. Kalaupapa Month was adopted by the Hawaii State Legislature and signed into law by Gov. David Ige in June.

On Jan. 6, 1866, the first 12 people were forcibly isolated on the peninsula known as Kalaupapa because they had been diagnosed with leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. They were the first of nearly 8,000 men, women and children who would follow. Most never returned home or saw their loved ones again.

To commemorate Kalaupapa Month, Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa hopes that family members will remember their ancestors, teachers will include Kalaupapa in their classrooms, church leaders will pay tribute to the people of Kalaupapa in their worship services and the general public will think about the sacrifices made by those sent to Kalaupapa and their families who were left behind.

As part of Kalaupapa Month, Valerie Monson of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa will present a webinar, “The Restoration of Family Ties,” from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 22.

The event will be hosted by the Damien-Marianne Catholic Conference. There is no cost to attend.

This presentation will include a narrated slideshow of historical and modern-day photographs that show how Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa has helped hundreds of descendants reconnect to their Kalaupapa ancestors.

Monson first visited Kalaupapa in 1989 as a reporter for The Maui News and continued to write about the settlement until she took early retirement in 2006 to work for Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa.

To register for the webinar, visit www.dmcchawaii.org.

For more information about Kalaupapa Month, visit www.kalaupapaohana.org.

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