Richard Marks & Gloria Lutu Marks
Damien Tours LLC got its start in 1966 where former Leprosy patients Richard Marks and his wife Gloria Lutu Marks were determined to share their story and the history of Leprosy in Hawaii with the world. By taking visitor's to Father Damien's Church in Kalawao, through the old and new settlements, graves, visitor's quarters, and old ruins, the story of the disease and how it affected the Hawaii islands and their families became the driving force for Damien Tours. Both Richard and Gloria had a deep respect for telling true history of Kalaupapa, Hawaiian History, the involvement of the Church, and State to ensure that a full-rounded tour was provided to their customers. Damien Tours owner Gloria Marks is happy that her and her husband's business has come so far, and is the only owner-operated tour business in Kalaupapa.
The seclusion of the Kalaupapa Peninsula drew many people from around the world including pilgrims going on religious retreats, Journalists, historians, medical schools, volunteers, and family members to its shores with alluring stories of struggle, heart-ache, and the need to understand. Using their personal stories as the foundation of their tours, Richard and Gloria were able to share with thousands of visitor's the plight of those who were afflicted with Leprosy in the early 1800's to the present day.
In addition to touring both the old and new settlements of Kalaupapa, you will also be provided information on the history of Damien Tours and its founders - Richard Marks (Sheriff, Historian and Ambassador of Kalaupapa) and Gloria Lutu Marks (Fuesaina’s Bar owner, Patient Advocate, and Philanthropist), who have been a part of this community for over 78 Years. Richard and Gloria were pioneers in their efforts for patient rights and educating outside visitors on the history of Kalaupapa, by bringing in the National Park Service. By creating Damien Tours, the Marks’ found a way to share their life story about living in Kalaupapa as well as those who came before them. Currently, Gloria Lutu Marks is the only living survivor of the founders, and has made it her goal to continue sharing the history of Kalaupapa for as long as she is able to.
The vision of Damien Tours is to create a personal resource for the foundation of knowledge and understanding of Leprosy (Hansen's Disease) in Hawaii for visitor's, and in the educational, religious, and medical communities through sharing personal stories about the human experience of those exiled in Kalaupapa.
The mission of Damien Tours is to eliminate the stigma of Leprosy through educating and connecting with each visitor through sharing accurate and historic accounts of how Leprosy had affected the personal lives of those who lived in Kalaupapa before the Act, those exiled to Kalaupapa,, their families, sharing personal experiences of every day life - including family dynamics in Kalaupapa, introducing visitors to the geography and sacredness of Kalaupapa, the effects of the involvement of the State, Federal, and Private Organizations had on the past, present-day, and future of Kalaupapa, and stories of St. Damien, St. Marianne, and how other individuals and groups played an important role in the lives of those living in Kalaupapa.
"Only through quality education, conservation of history, and advocating for human rights for Leprosy patients can the stigma of Leprosy be removed from the minds of the ignorant". - Richard Marks
History of Damien Tours