Diagnosed with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) at the age of twelve and exiled to the remote settlement of Kalaupapa, Moloka‘i, Makia Malo lost his hands, his feet and his eyesight over the years—but never the vision or spirit that have made him a celebrated storyteller and poet.
In My Name Is Makia: A Memoir of Kalaupapa, this inspirational Hawaiian now tells his own story—of a child of Kalaupapa who grew up to carry his message of hope and love throughout the Islands and around the world.
During its century as a virtual prison, more than 8,000 people were exiled to Kalaupapa, until the introduction of sulfone drugs in the 1940s. Today a dwindling handful—fewer than 20—of patients remain. When his health allows, Malo numbers among them. Otherwise, he resides at Hale Mōhalu hospital in Honolulu.
Few Kalaupapa patients have chosen to share their experiences in as public a manner as Malo, who has maintained a positive outlook despite the harsh realities of his life. “Yes, I wish my life had been different, but still it has been so much better than many of the [other] patients,” he points out. “I’d be grateful if people would remember all of us, the 8,000-plus who are dead and the handful of us hanging on… We lost so much. I hope in the future people learn from us. This is the lesson: No matter where you are, at what age, life can be hard. Life can take everything away from you in one snap of a finger and it doesn’t do you any good to sit there and whine about it. Take that cane and bang, bang your way around your problems. I have my memories. I have my stories.”
My Name is Makia was crafted by veteran broadcast journalist Pamela Young from years of conversations with Malo combined with earlier attempts at documenting his life, written by himself and edited by his late wife, Ann. Woven throughout his narrative are transcriptions of many of the stories Malo has told to audiences around the world. Some are memories of his childhood. Others, as Young explains, “are myths, some are daydreams, with no beginning, end, or purpose.”
Softcover; 172 pp
Author: Makia Malo with Pamela Young
Release Date: September 2012