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Damien – Program Notes
Born Joseph de Veusters in 1840 in a small hamlet called Tremeloo in Belgium, the man whowas to serve the Settlement on Moloka’i chose the religious name of Damien upon entering thepriesthood in the missionary order of the Society of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Taking the place of his brother, a priest who had suffered a bout of typhus, Damien receivedpermission to join the mission in Hawai’i. Full of his mission early on, he wrote to his parents:“Here I am a missionary in a corrupt, heretical, idolatrous country. How great my obligationsare!”
A decade later, Damien chose to join sufferers of leprosy in the “government prison,” as hetermed it, of the Moloka’i Settlement. During his first season, he visited each patient everyweek – a circuit that took five days, with each workday lasting 19 hours – while also working inthe hospital, constructing homes, and helping to build coffins for the deaths that occurred daily.
Damien’s quick rise to authority in the Settlement aroused the resentment of many alreadythere, as well as that of his own superiors in the Hawai’ian mission.
Through the course of his ministry on Moloka’i, Damien’s views about leprosy changed:instead of a curse from God, as he initially thought leprosy to be, Damien instead came tobelieve that the disease could be something other than a punishment – perhaps even a blessing.
Despite this belief, when his own symptoms began to appear, Damien at first maintained ananxious hope that he had not become infected. Only later did he interpret his illness as part of adivine plan, and vow to submit himself to what he was certain was God’s will. He tried tocontinue his ministry even after he began having difficulties walking and preaching in late 1888.
At age 49, Father Damien died on April 15, 1889.
Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy)
From ancient times, the paralyzing disease that led to severe nerve damage, loss of feeling, anddeterioration of the flesh was known as leprosy – a terrifying disease that caused disfigurementand that had no known cure. But after 1873, this condition became known as “Hansen’sDisease,” so named for Norwegian doctor Gerhard Armauer Hansen, who discovered thedisease’s true cause. Dr. Hansen found that leprosy was not hereditary, as previously thought;nor was there any foundation to the Western belief that leprosy was a punishment from God, orthe Hawai’ian belief that disease was the result of the anger of either one of the many Hawai’iangods, or a person who could channel the gods’ supernatural power. Rather, a bacillus knowntoday as Mycobacterium leprae
is the source of the illness.
Hansen’s Disease is much less contagious than many other diseases, such as AIDS, SARS, or theEbola virus, that have raised concerns in recent decades. Although Hansen’s Disease istransmitted through direct person-to-person contact, only about five percent of the world’spopulation is susceptible to contracting the illness – and transference of the bacillus usuallyrequires repeated exposure over a long period of time.
Dr. Hansen’s important finding eventually led to the development of sulfone drugs in the1940’s at the US Public Health Service National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana. Since 1981,a multi-drug therapy has been administered, consisting of dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine,which kills the pathogen and cures the patient. Yet, even after scientific developments provedthat quarantine of people with Hansen’s Disease was unnecessary, medical policy in the US
continued to dictate that patients with Hansen’s Disease were isolated until the 1980’s and1990’s. Critics charged that such policies not only deprived patients of civil liberties, but alsoused health resources inefficiently and fostered undue social stigma against Hansen’s Diseasepatients. Today medical treatment and social integration are the primary goals of mostorganizations fighting Hansen’s Disease.
, by John Tayman (2006)A Disease Apart: Leprosy in the Modern World
, by Tony Gould (2005)Carville: Remembering Leprosy in America
, by Marcia Gaudet (2004)Leper Priest of Moloka’i: The Father Damien Story
, by Richard Stewart (2000)The Lands of Father Damien: Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii
, by James Brocker (1997)Exile in Paradise: The Isolation of Hawai’i’s Leprosy Victims and Development of Kalaupapa Settlement,
1865 to the Present
, by Linda Greene (1985)
The Disease of the Soul: Leprosy in Medieval Literature
, by Saul Nathaniel Brody (1974)Mother Marianne of Moloka’i
, by L.V. Jacks (1935)“Father Damien” (chapter) in Lay Morals, and Other Papers
, by Robert Louis Stevenson (1911)
Gifts from the Shore: A Kalaupapa Diary
, by Roberta Jarrett (1993)Olivia: My Life of Exile in Kalaupapa
, by Olivia Robello Breitha (1988)Village of the Outcasts
, by Robert Wulff (1967)No One Must Ever Know
, by Betty Martin, edited by Evelyn Wells (1959)The Second Miracle
, by Peter Greave (1955)Miracle at Carville
, by Betty Martin, edited by Evelyn Wells (1950)
The Pearl Diver: A Novel
, by Jeff Talarigo (2005)Moloka’i
, by Alan Brennert (2003)In the Shadow of the Pali: A Story of the Hawaiian Leper Colony
, by Lisa Cindrich (2002)Banner O’Brien
, by Linda Lael Miller (2001)My Name is Loa: A Story of Exile, Adventure, and Romance on the Island of Moloka’i
, written by
For Youth: The Dark Light
, by Mette Newth, translated by Faith Ingwersen (1998, 2004)
Moloka’i: the Story of Father Damien
, directed by Paul Cox (2000)
Ways to Help
Spread the Word:The World Health Organization estimates that today there are about 2.4 million cases ofHansen’s Disease worldwide, with only two-thirds of these registered for treatment. Most casesare in Southeast Asia and Central Africa, with smaller numbers in Latin America.
Approximately 6500 cases are registered in North America, with about 200 cases beingdiagnosed annually.
The Education Department of the National Hansen's Disease Programs (NHDP)
, through theirMedia Development Services, produces and distributes a wide range of audio-visual materials,
including VHS video cassettes and DVDs relative to all areas of HD care and research. Theyalso offer booklets and brochures that provide both brief and detailed information aboutHansen’s Disease, including information on self-care for patients. To order videos, contactNational Hansen’s Disease Programs, 1770 Physicians Park Drive, STOP 18, Baton Rouge, LA,70816, by fax at (225) 756-3760, or email [email protected]
Take Action:Since 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided all endemic countries with freeMDT, supplied through Ministries of Health. In December 2005, an agreement was signedbetween the WHO and the pharmaceutical company Novartis to extend this free provision untilat least the end of 2010. WHO holds an annual World Health Day (April 7 in 2006), andprovides toolkits for local organizers of World Health Day events. See the WHO website at:http://www.who.int/world-health-day/2006/toolkit/en/. WHO also provides informationon Hansen’s Disease, and can be reached at the WHO Media Centre, at telephone 41 22 7912222, or by email at [email protected]
Many people with Hansen’s Disease – particularly women – continue to be stigmatized within
their communities worldwide. The START
Project is a project of the Leah Pattison organization,
whose mission is to support women in India who suffer from leprosy. They can be contacted by
mail at START,
C/O Mrs Sandra Pattison, Frosterley Cottage, Intake Lane, Frosterley, Bishop
Auckland, Co. Durham, DL13 2TH, United Kingdom; at telephone (UK) 01388 528 497; or at
email [email protected]
The American Leprosy Missions
provide medical, social, and spiritual care to people withHansen’s Disease worldwide. They can be reached by mail at American Leprosy Missions, 1ALM Way, Greenville, SC 29601; by telephone at 1.800.543.3135 or 864.271.7040; by fax at864.271.7062; or by email at [email protected]
Worldwide efforts are also coordinated by two other organizations based in the UnitedKingdom: • LEPRA
, a medical development charity. They can be contacted by mail at LEPRA, 28Middleborough, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1TG, UK; at telephone 01206 216700; by fax at 01206762151; or by email at [email protected] • Leprosy Mission International
, a Christian medical organization. They can be contacted by mailat 80 Windmill Road, Brentford, Middlesex, TW8 0QH, UK; at telephone 44 (0)20 83266767; byfax at 44 (0)20 83266777; by email at f r i e n d s @ t l m i n t . o r g , or on the web athttp://www.leprosymission.org.
And, a Foundation honoring Father Damien has been organized in Belgium. They can becontacted by mail at Fondation Damien, Bvd Léopold II, 263, 1081 Brussels; by telephone at0032 (0) 2 422 59 11; or on the web (in French) at www.fondationdamien.be.
Fumiko Watanabe, Ph.D. CURRENT POSITION Researcher Department of Geology, Faculty of Science, University of Liege Sart-Tilman B18, Allée du 6 Août, B-4000, Liege, Belgium E-mail: fumiko.[email protected]; [email protected] Researcher Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan) Paleolimnology of Siberian and Mongolian Lakes Stable Isotope Geochemistry o
FRANCESCO DIVITO, sopranista Francesco Divito, sopranista ‘naturale’, si avvicina, per la sua vocalità, ai cantanti castrati dell’epoca barocca. Dopo i primi studi di pianoforte e organo, ha studiato canto e prassi della musica antica con Giuseppe Naviglio, Furio Zanasi, Adriana Fernandez, Rosa Dominguez, Gabriel Garrido, Lavinia Bertotti; è in procinto di laurearsi in Canto rinas