(from “The Separating Sickness: Ma’i Ho’oka’awale: Interviews with Exiled Leprosy Patients at Kalaupapa, Hawaii” by Ted Gugelyk and Milton Bloombaum, Ma’i Ho’oka’awale Foundation, Honolulu, HI, 1979)
(continued from yesterday)
43 years old
31 years in confinement
Little by little, I got worse — different parts of my body started to go. I lost sensation gradually. My ears. My hands. Feet. Little by little. I had so many medical problems. They put me on the sulfones. But they didn’t work for me. I really don’t know why. The disease never got any better for me. I kept going, from bad to worse.
I finished the eighth grade about 1949. That was the year about the big outcry, concerning the proposed closing of Kalaupapa. They closed Kalihi Hospital, opened up Hale Mohalu, and were anticipating moving the people out of Kalaupapa to Hale Mohalu. But the patients refused to go. They did not want to be moved again. That was so much their history, movement against their will. A lifetime of it. First from their homes, then to Kalihi, then to Kalaupapa. As far as the people were concerned, Kalaupapa was the last move. So, they remained at Kalaupapa.
But us kids, they moved anyway. We had to go to Hale Mohalu for school. I didn’t want to go. I chose to remain behind at Kalaupapa, since I got used to the place as my home. But my family urged I return to Honolulu to Hale Mohalu. There I finished school, finished up to high school. I graduated from the Hale Mohalu high school in 1952.
After that, I began to have other problems — eye problems. By 1964, I started to go blind. By January 1965, I was blind.
Blessings, much pule and pono be yours! With aloha nui!
Fr. Brian, ss.cc.