This is the story of Pia, a thirteen year old Hawaiian boy who is banished to the Kalaupapa leprosy settlement. Conditions are harsh in the settlement, but Pia is determined to survive on his own. He soon finds that in order to survive, he must chooose between lawlessness and aloha, revenge and forgiveness, his own wilfullness and the example of a surprising man who becomes like a father. This fictional account was inspired by:
The many real life Hawaiians banished to Molokai’s isolated Kalaupapa Peninsula between 1866 – 1969
Damien deVeuster who chose to live and work there among people with leprosy.
I was writing church school curriculum. I wanted a more contemporary story to go with the story of Jesus healing a man who had leprosy. A friend from Hawaii told me about Father Damien, the Belgian Catholic missionary who served unselfishly in Hawaii’s leprosy settlement. I’ve been researching Hawaii’s leprosy history ever since!