Construction Project Leader:
Reflections on Kalaupapa
by Donald Corbin
Kalapaupa is one of the most unique places I have ever had the opportunity to see, due to it’s historical content, and context, its geographical location, and its subtle understated importance as a place of development for the human spirit.
Rounding the first corner into the settlement from the tiny airstrip I am confronted by hundreds of graves of those who struggled to live and die here on this inaccessible peninsula. It’s rugged beauty, is as much awe inspiring, as it is a barrier to those loved ones these patients were forced to leave behind. The history and humanity of this village are as poignant today as it is a bench mark for us to remember the treatment of our fellow human beings, however wrought with sickness or contagion, must always be thought of in terms of where our society will be as whole if a certain prescribed treatment of our sickest indiviuals is not met with compassion and humanity. The history of this monument to human suffering has so much to offer us as we delve into the compassion and the despair which can be found in the human soul.
There were many acts of malevolence done here, as were there many acts of sheer and utter kindness and compassion.
Father Damien comes to mind along with many others who committed their lives and opportunity of life in order to minister to a people whom society, for the most part, cast off to be left to their own devices to perish and suffer from disease and broken hearted loneliness. There are many stories here of the brave denizens who banded together and created loving memories between themselves. They are a testament to the human spirit. I am humbled at the thought of what they perservered through.
After visiting this place for the first time, I fully understood the magnatude of Father Damien’s service. I fully understood the depth of his compassion. I fully understood the breadth of his devotion to his spiritual beliefs. And for the very first time I fully understood him to indeed be the Saint I had only before barely understood.
The project could be talked about in terms of how we talk about our project in M.L.S. The time we spent with each other there, could be talked about, as the timeless hours the people of Hawaii pass with each other in laughter, and music, in story telling and listening.
The memories from there can be talked about with an understanding of the pain, and suffering human kind has been faced with since time began, as well as the compassion. And the understanding of the opportunity, and the responsiblity we share to create light in the darkness, to create comfort where there is pain, to create laughter where there is none. If we have done these things our project was successful…