We’d like to introduce you to some of the people we met on a recent visit to Mozambique. Our projects there are based in Cabo Delgado province, which has one of the highest rates of leprosy in Africa. In a place where accessing medical treatment can be difficult, extreme poverty is rife, and people’s main livelihood is subsistence farming, life can be incredibly hard for people affected by leprosy.
Aleena’s whole family is affected by leprosy. Her mother has it, as do five of her nine children. She was diagnosed with leprosy in 1975 after developing numb patches on her feet. On being diagnosed she initially felt her life had ended – she worried about not being able to work or raise a family.
Aleena used to farm but needs help from her children both with work and with household chores now she is getting older. She needs to make sure that her numb feet do not become injured. She feels unable to do much, but is thankful for the difference The Leprosy Mission’s work is making in Mozambique and thankful that despite all the challenges she has faced in life, she has not given up hope.
Zacaria is probably in his mid-fifties. He caught leprosy when he was a young man. He discovered patches on his legs and didn’t know what they were, but when his health deteriorated quickly a relative suggested he travel to the nearest hospital – about 30 miles away – to get help.
Unfortunately, living so far away from medical facilities meant that Zacaria’s condition got worse.
Although he is now cured of leprosy, he has been left severely disabled. He cannot stand or walk and has to drag himself along the ground. Zacaria has no family left and relies entirely on the help and support of the leprosy community.
Marieta is most likely in her eighties. She contracted leprosy a long time ago when the cure was not readily available to her and consequently has badly affected eyes and severely disabled hands and feet. She was stigmatized and rejected by many of the community – including her husband, who divorced her – but thankfully her children have always looked after her.
Medically, nothing can be done for Marieta and she is very sad to have to be so dependent upon others to help and care for her. She struggles to see any hope in life.
Aleena, Zacaria and Marieta are just three of the many people affected by leprosy that we’ve met in Mozambique. All have similar tales to tell: lack of access to a cure for the disease and to protection against disability meant they now suffer daily with the effects of the disease and are reliant on other people to help tend to their needs.
Living a life blighted by leprosy and disability can seem hopeless. But it doesn’t have to be this way. This summer, we have an amazing opportunity to help transform the lives of thousands of people in Mozambique. And that’s where you come in!
We’d love to have your help as we kick off a great summer and our new campaign – Feet First. Visit our special Feet First page to find out more and learn about how you can get involved with this amazing opportunity. Between 1 June and 31 August the UK government is matching public donations to the Feet First campaign, meaning that every gift to Feet First made within this timeframe will be doubled and have the potential to change twice as many lives!