The Tale of Kalaupapa and Unity Through Hardships


Photo by: Anthony De Leon

Professor Fred E. Woods of Birmingham Young University tells the story of Kalaupapa in OAB room 251 on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.

Story By: Marco Rosas, Entertainment Editor

For some, Hawaii is a tropical paradise, but for others, the beaches and palm trees pale in comparison to the people.
This was part of the presentation by Fred Woods, a professor at Brigham Young University, speaker at the Fresno Multi-Faith Exchange event on Oct. 5 in Room 251 of the Old Administration Building.
Woods, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke about Kalaupapa and its people, his own experiences there, and the interfaith work led by Father Damien.
Woods spoke about a small settlement on the island of Moloka’i where many people suffering from Hansen’s disease, a chronic and curable infectious disease mainly causing skin lesions and nerve damage better known as leprosy, were banished.
“They started sending patients there in 1866,” Woods said. “I just wanted to learn more about this special place, and that led to doing a documentary film.”
Woods’ film, “Soul of Kalaupapa: Voices in Exile” which documents many first-hand experiences of patients in Kalaupapa, is free online.
Woods said that the residents of Kalaupapa were upset to be sent to the settlement at first, but then, the residents formed powerful bonds with one another and suffered through their disease and treatment together.
He said that several religious volunteers of different backgrounds provided much support and positivity to the residents.Woods said that the story of Kalaupapa is about “unity in the non essentials, liberty and in all things charity.”
Woods drew similarities between the residents of Kalaupapa and the many people injured or killed in the Las Vegas massacre.
“It was a tragic event,” he said. “But I’m thinking about the people who literally gave their life for other people, most of whom they didn’t even know. These tragedies and challenges in the proper light can actually bring us together.”
The speech was organized by journalism instructor, Cheryl Gardner, as part of an educational lecture series aimed at promoting peace and understanding through the Interfaith Alliance of Central California.