We visited a government leprosy colony in a place called Khokhana a few days ago. A bumpy ride through Kathmandu and through the hills, slowly climbing higher. Just when we thought the road could get no rougher, we arrived. The compound is beautifully kept with every leprosy-affected person having a room to live in, sometimes with a separate kitchen. The courtyard area in the centre is full of small vegetable patches bursting with crops, and grass where people sit in the sun to chat and play with the babies.
We met many people and heard stories of how leprosy had affected them, many having developed very serious deformities of the hands and feet. Many had experienced the rejection so commonly associated with this disease.
I felt heartbroken to see so many badly damaged hands and feet. I began to feel that nothing had changed. But then I realised, leprosy is still leprosy. It is older than the Bible and if it isn’t diagnosed early, disabilities will occur. But what has changed is the treatment, the cure, the surgeries, the rehabilitation, the self-help groups, the income-generating loans, and the skills training.
It’s an awesome list and one that continues to bring hope to thousands.
I didn’t realise that since the 1980s, more than 16 million people have been cured of leprosy. This is a life-changing disease but The Leprosy Mission and the staff who work for it are giving people their lives back every day of the year, and many are finding faith as a result of the kindness shown to them.