The Office of Hawaiian Affairs awarded a $100,000 grant to Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa to continue its genealogy and historical preservation work.
Known as a Kaiaulu grant, the $100,000 was awarded to the non-profit group in March by the OHA Board of Trustees, according to Colette Machado, OHA trustee and chairperson.
Also a board member for Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, Machado recused herself from the decision-making process because of the conflict of interest. “I was happy they were able to qualify,” said Machado in an interview yesterday. “They had one of the highest scores. Whoever wrote the proposal was a real excellent writer. So I immediately had to disclose that I had a conflict as a board member.”
Machado went on to say that the grant was “very well deserved. They will do a lot more work now that they have some resources,” she added.
“The grant will enable us to expand our research efforts and expand our current ‘Restoration of Family Ties’ programs that reach out to family members who might need assistance learning more about their Kalaupapa anecstors,” said Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa Secretary Valerie Monson.
Ka ‘Ohana has been compiling information from various registers and sources in the public domain, said Monson. “One of our recent projects is the Kalaupapa PhotoBank where we are scanning and cataloging historical photographs in the public domain to make sure these photos are preserved,” she added.
Currently, Ka ‘Ohana is contracting with a couple of people to help with this research and to help with production of educational materials and workshops to reach out to families. A photo exhibit is also planned that will travel to all the islands. The grant will also help the group write the newsletters and make global contact with families, not only in Hawaii, but in the continental United States and elsewhere.
President of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa, along with Monson, presented to the OHA Board of Trustees to answer questions regarding the grant. Seven trustees, other than Machado, supported the grant proposal.
An ohana of Kalaupapa patients, Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, founded in 2003, is an advocacy group dedicated to promoting the value and dignity of every individual exiled to Kalaupapa since 1866.
A memorial to honor the 8,000-plus individuals forcibly relocated to the Kalaupapa Peninsula was signed into law by President Barrack Obama on March 30, 2009. The legislation authorizes Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa to establish a memorial listing the names of those individuals.
Though this recent grant will not support the memorial, OHA may be able to help with this project in the future. “We stand behind them in the work to get a monument,” said Machado.
“It’s not just because Damien has become a saint,” said Machado. “The voices of the patients — that’s our mission — to make sure they are being heard and their thoughts and desires are being adhered to by the Park Service.
“I think the Park Service, through the Department of the Interior, wants to be more of a player now (with the memorial) since it’s gotten such huge support,” she added. “The desires that we support — and I’m speaking for myself and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs — is for the Old Baldwin Home site where the patients originally wanted it to be. Aunty Kuulei Bell (the original president of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa), that was her desire, so we support that.”
While the National Park Service has done much to support Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, it has been an “uphill battle” working with them, said Machado.
“I think that there’s still a lot more to be done. Steve Prokop (superintendent for the Kalaupapa National Historical Park) attempts to do his best but when it comes to being heard culturally and respectfully I think we still have the bureaucracy or these layers of government that needs to be torn down.”