(taken from “History of the Catholic Mission in the Hawaiian Islands” by Father Reginald Yzendoorn, SS.CC., Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Ltd., Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, 1927)
(continued from July 13th)
Father Damien continues the following description of the leper settlement at the time of his arrival, dated March, 1886:
In previous years, having nothing but small, damp huts, nearly the whole of the lepers were prostrated on their beds, covered with scabs and ugly sores, and had the appearance of very weak, broken-down constitutions. In the year 1874 the great question was – how to improve the habitations of the unfortunate people, the Government appropriation being at that time barely enough to provide them with food.
During that winter a heavy south wind blew down the majority of their half rotten abodes, and many a weak leper lay there in the wind and rain, with his blanket and clothes damp and wet. In a few days the old grass beneath their sleeping mats began to emit a very unpleasant vapor. I at once called the attention of our sympathizing agent to the fact and very soon there arrived several schooner loads of scantling to build solid frames with. All lepers who were in distress received, on application, the necessary material for the erection of frames, with one inch square laths to thatch the grass or sugar cane leaves to. Afterwards tough N.W. boards arrived, and also the old material of the former Kalihi hospital. From private and charitable sources we received shingles and flooring. Those who had a little money hired their own carpenters; for those without means the priest with his leper boys, did the work of erecting a good many small houses. Besides some newcomers who had means built their dwellings at their own expense.
(to be continued)
Blessings, pono and pule!
Fr. Brian Guerrini, ss.cc.