Kalaupapa prepares
to greet annual barge

The arrival of a year's supply
of many goods has become a
holiday for remaining patients

About 1,200 pounds of aluminum cans are awaiting shipment from Kalaupapa, as residents in the isolated northern Molokai community prepare for the annual barge day.

Getting the cans to Reynolds Recycling on Oahu is important.

For the last several years, the community has become known for recycling through its Kalaupapa Lions Club, collecting aluminum cans, copper and brass.

Lions Club President Albert Pu, who works for the National Park Service at Kalaupapa, said the money received through recycling -- about $400 to $500 -- is used to provide Christmas gifts and a dinner for patients.

Arriving at the Kalaupapa pier tomorrow will be a year's supply of many goods and several vehicles, including an ambulance and a school bus to conduct tours of the peninsula.

"It's a holiday for us," said Gloria Marks, a resident for more than 30 years. "Everybody goes down there."

The community has about 27 patient-residents who have chosen to live out their years in this former colony for leprosy patients, where the late Father Damien once cared for thousands of people shunned and isolated on this remote thumb of land in the late 1800s.

The peninsula, surrounded by the ocean and 2,000-foot-high cliffs, is also accessible by light airplane and on foot or mule ride on a two-hour journey on a switchback trail.

A medical treatment for Hansen's disease has halted any need for isolation, but the state has agreed to allow the patients to live out their lives at Kalaupapa. The average patient's age is 75, according to the state.

Once there are no patients, the state plans to turn over the settlement to the National Park Service.

The Park Service at Kalaupapa National Historical Park works in cooperation with the state in operating and maintaining the 10,000-acre peninsula.

Tomorrow's barge will also bring Fuesaina's Bar supply of beer. Residents said there has been an increase in the consumption of beer, due to a rise in the number of construction workers doing projects on behalf of the National Park Service.

At Fuesaina's, the only bar in Kalaupapa, the operating hours are usually between 4 and 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Fuesaina's owner Marks said that her shipment of beer sometimes is consumed in less than six months, prompting her to bring in additional supplies by light airplane. This year, she is awaiting the arrival of more than 450 cases of beer, including 160 cases of Heineken and 190 cases of Bud Lite.

The barge also will be carrying two gasoline tankers to provide fuel for the year, along with appliances and canned goods.

Michael McCarten, state health administrator for Kalaupapa, said residents' consumption of Spam and other canned goods has decreased since a dietitian was brought in several years ago to discuss healthy eating alternatives. More residents are consuming fresh produce, including milk, vegetables and meat that arrive weekly by air, he said.

Marks said she came from American Samoa more than 30 years ago after contracting Hansen's disease. She is married to Richard Marks, another resident, who operates Damien Tours.

She said at the age of 66, she holds another distinction.

"I'm the youngest woman in Kalaupapa of the patients," she said.



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