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Father Damien

I took a trip with my family to Hawaii in February 2010. We decided we wanted a leg of the trip to be in a less commercial Hawaii, so we flew out to the smaller island of Molokai. This is where we hiked down a nearly slippery Kalaupapa trail which is littered with donkey dung to boot. The trail leads to a Leper colony where I learned about Father Damien, a Roman Catholic missionary, who was there with a handful of others to help ease the pain of the people who were condemned to live here.

Sure, living on a tropical island doesn’t sound too terrible, except if you factor in the fact that these people were taken by force and were basically sent there to die. The scenery there now is actually rather breath taking, but after hearing about the place and taking the tour, it’s almost crazy to think about the conditions these already severely sick people were forced to live in until their illness got the better of them. If I remember right, I think our tour guide told us that people would be boated near shore then dumped off the ship so they had to swim for their life or die in the ocean. After that, they had to survive in make shift tents braving rainstorms and other tropical island messes with no help from anyone other than whomever was already on the island and the missionaries.

There’s a lot more and I’m probably misquoting a lot, but what remains the same is that this guy helped out a lot of people when everyone else basically sent them off to die. He ended up contracting the disease and passed away in 1889.

Traveling makes me feel less naive about the world, especially when learning about the grey areas in life where I’m not quite certain I could make a decision that was entirely “white.”

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