A rich story – Rebecca’s Nepal blog

Narb, who has endured great stigma as a result of being treated for leprosy.
Narb, who has endured great stigma as a result of being treated for leprosy.

Rebecca Pullon is part of our team of young people visiting Nepal. Read on to learn about her experiences at Anandaban Hospital.

What makes a story rich? Passion, determination, success amongst hardship? Or perhaps humility and hope? Whichever the case, Anandaban hospital in Nepal, is full of rich stories – men and women who have endured much to be healthy.

The hospital itself is a rich story, one that started in 1957 and to this day has prioritised and treated leprosy-affected people for free. It is one of three leprosy hospitals in Nepal and the only one to offer specialised reconstructive surgery. It has 80 beds for leprosy inpatients and runs outpatient clinics in three other locations once a month. Each day the staff gather at 8:30am for worship and prayer, and then begins another busy day of serving the people of Nepal.

This week I met Narb, and I want to share his story. Narb is 63 years old. He found out he had leprosy when he was just 14 years of age, and from the moment he took medicine for leprosy treatment, he was labelled as a leprosy-affected person by his community. He was never able to marry because of discrimination in his village – word of mouth spread very fast. Nonetheless he stayed in his home town to care for his mother.

She died last year so Narb has now moved to Kathmandu. and is staying at Anandaban for a few weeks to learn how to take care of himself – last month he developed ulcers on his feet. Narb has become a Christian since being treated at Anandaban hospital, he goes to a church for people with disabilities and is planning to get baptised soon.

Narb’s story is typical of the stories I’ve heard from the patients here; some of them have endured a great deal – the saddest to me is being prevented from getting married because of being affected by leprosy. Narb started crying as he shared his story with us.

Niwa soaks his feet at the self-care unit.
Niwa soaks his feet at the self-care unit.

We also met Niwa, who sat soaking his feet as he talked to us. He doesn’t have feeling in his feet and they don’t sweat so they get very dry and hard. He needs to soak his feet until the hard skin goes soft so he can scrape it off. Niwa found out he had leprosy five or six years ago and came to Anandaban for treatment. He was here for a year while he had surgery on both feet (for foot drop) and on his left hand, which had become clawed. He is from the eastern region of Nepal and has two sons and a daughter, but he lives in Kathmandu working as a carpenter, sending money back to his family.

Niwa has been back to Anandaban a couple of times after developing ulcers on his feet and is currently staying in the self-care unit to help encourage him to look after himself well. He is meant to soak his feet everyday but often doesn’t because it is seen as inappropriate by the people he lives with. Sometimes he doesn’t have time or doesn’t have an appropriate vessel to hold water. At Anandaban, staff are working hard to try to encourage people to incorporate self-care into everyday life.

I am moved by every story that I hear from the people of Anandaban. It is a privilege to hear their hearts and uncover their rich stories.

Photos: Ruth Jones


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