Plantation life in Hawaii or Let’s Take a Reality Check(I’m taking a break here from my series to add a thought here)
Life was hard for those who came to Hawaii with hopes of making enough money to go back home and help the family. Sugar cane drew many to the islands.You started for work at 5 AM and back at 4PM. You owed more money to the company store at times then you made. For many there was no medical help and bosses that could beat, kick and prevent you from even standing up to get the pain out of your back. If you were a woman you might also work. That meant you probably rose around 3 am to make breakfast and your lunch to take to the fields for both you and your husband.
Often the women worked the fields with their child tied to their back. Then you would return home after being bent over all day and get the dinner started, do the laundry and any chores that needed to be done before the luna came around and called to all the workers that their lights had to be out. This was around 8PM. You worked, you slaved, you might have even been hated by your husband who had been disappointed by what you looked like when he finely met you in person after he had applied for you as a picture bride. Mental and physical abuse would be added to your burden.
These people brought their hopes and dreams with them. Many had left behind family but they still honored their ancestor who had passed on and hoped too that they would be remembered when their turn came. As I passed this field I said to my friend, where is the cemetery where they buried, the old workers who died on the plantation? “Your looking at it!” Ewa Sugar Plantation Cemetery I was incredulous. It couldn’t be true. No markers, no flowers, nobody to mourn. They were gone, the graves covered over with grass, an empty lot. Only one memorial marker stood out. And so I took this photo with a deep sadness. You would think that with this history we would remember. We would not make this mistake again. We would be indignant if it happened in our life time. Then I read in the Star Advertiser, the local paper, “Six Isle Farms Sued for Labor Practices! Mistreatment of farm laborers, held captive, handing over their passports so they are unable to leave. And the list goes on. When will we learn? Pay attention. History can and does repeat itself.
If you would like to read about the labor problems going on here in the islands here is the site you can go to (Isles Farms Sued)