An update from Purulia Hospital

As you know, Purulia Hospital in West Bengal has been through many changes in the last year. From the exciting developments in the new Out Patients’ Department (OPD) – made possible by your wonderful support and faithful prayers – to changes in the team who serve our leprosy-affected brothers and sisters.

Earlier this year, after many years of incredible commitment to the hospital, God led Dr Joydeepa and Dr Famkima Darlong into the next step of their journey. Their hearts have always been to heal leprosy-affected people and see their lives restored, and both have stayed true to this calling.

Now the Head of Knowledge Management and Head of Healthcare for The Leprosy Mission in India respectively, Dr Joydeepa manages leprosy research, training and sharing of knowledge across all of our teams in India, and Dr Famkima oversees TLM’s 14 hospitals and medical camps throughout the country.

Dr Joy & Fam
Dr Joydeepa and Dr Famkima Darlong

The couple relocated to Delhi, where they live with their daughter, and now their reach is wider and greater than ever. Often involved in medical conferences, they are positioned perfectly by God to improve healthcare in India and to influence the global fight against leprosy and disability.

Both Dr Joydeepa and Dr Famkima often go back to Purulia to visit the team and patients during their weekends. The hospital will always hold a special place in their hearts but they know they are in the centre of God’s will for their lives – and there is no better place for them to be.

Our new Superintendent at Purulia

Across the worldwide Leprosy Mission family, we are so excited for Dr Joydeepa and Dr Famkima, and equally delighted to welcome our new Superintendent for Purulia Hospital, Dr Ujjwal Hembrom.

Vicki Davison, Partnership Officer at The Leprosy Mission England & Wales, had the privilege of speaking to Dr Ujjwal recently and wanted to share with you his vision for Purulia and his faith in God:

“I was born and brought up in a small village called Ambajora in Jharkhand province, around 200 km from Purulia. I grew up in a Christian home; my maternal grandfather was a pastor and my faith in God has been the focal point of my life.

My daughter is a doctor, working with me at Purulia, and my son is studying journalism. My wife is home maker – she binds us all together as a family. I never wanted to be a doctor! I planned to be an engineer, but God called me into a career in medicine. I spent 11 years working at a mission hospital run by Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church, close to my home in Jharkhand, before joining The Leprosy Mission’s Purulia Hospital in 2001.

Dr Ujwall and his daughter
Dr Ujjwal with his daughter

I worked at Purulia from 2001-2005, so re-joining earlier this year was like coming home. Many of the staff I first worked with are still serving at the hospital and we share fellowship in morning devotionals, and a weekly time of worship and Bible study at one of our homes.”

“There is something very special about Purulia and I believe it comes from our
team’s heart and commitment to God. Most of our staff here are from leprosy-affected families so their love for our patients is real. They are full of understanding and compassion. Our team’s heart is not to earn more money but to serve. This is what I believe has taken Purulia Hospital from strength to strength over the years. I have seen God move and bless us as our team put Him at the centre of everything we do.”

Vision for Purulia

“The reputation of Purulia extends far beyond West Bengal state. It is known for being a refuge and a place where every patient is given quality medical care and treated with dignity. Leprosy is not just a medical disease so we support each patient with holistic treatment – that’s what they deserve.

Leprosy will always be our focus, but I plan to expand and improve our services in other areas. We will add a specialist service in orthopaedics, increase general disability support, and expand the treatment available for patients suffering with neglected tropical diseases.”

Purulia Hospital
Purulia Hospital, West Bengal

“My heart is that Purulia will continue to be home to people who have been outcast and abused. Anyone can come and they will be cared for, loved and respected.

Our team will continue to do everything we can for leprosy-affected people, and we will continue to put God first.”

 

 

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Why I love working for The Leprosy Mission

As she comes to the end of her 2 years on the Graduate Development Scheme, one of our two Graduate Trainees, Laura Stopczynski, shares her thoughts about working for The Leprosy Mission England and Wales.

Leprosy is a cruel disease which still destroys thousands of lives every single day. Witnessing what leprosy can do and listening to heart-breaking yet powerful stories from around the world, I have been humbled and reminded of God’s extravagant grace and love he has for his world, and for his people.

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Laura met Mahendra during her visit to Anandaban Hospital, Nepal in 2017.

Being part of the team here, allows me to play my small part in making a difference and seeing lives truly being changed by the work of The Leprosy Mission. My role gives me the opportunity to use the skills that God has given me to bless others and day to day work towards something greater.

Through working at The Leprosy Mission, I get to hear stories and see with my own eyes miracles of light happening all around the world.  It’s a privilege to be part of a global family who despite living at opposite ends of the world, all have a common goal to see people affected by leprosy set free. It’s honestly such a great place to work.

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Laura with colleagues from across The Leprosy Mission Global Fellowship as part of the Asia Learning Workshop, 2017.

 

You can apply for The Leprosy Mission’s graduate scheme here.  (Deadline August 1st).

The Beauty Of Communication

Being able to communicate is crucial in life. Being able to communicate well is a gift and a joy.

Sitting at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport during an unscheduled five hour lay over, I can hear French being spoken softly all around me.  And joy upon joy  I understand most of it.

Over the last week I have had to dig deep into my memory of A-level French to communicate well in Niger.  Yesterday brought the biggest challenge.  Charlotte and I had the privilege of going with the Niger country leader Bunmi and seventeen leprosy-affected people to witness them receive the keys to a new house for each of them and their family.  Brand new purpose built houses on a piece of land on the outskirts of the capital city Niamey that have been funded by TLM England and Wales.

To those of us who live in the West, a two room concrete home situated in a block of four, with outside shower/toilet cubicle and one communal water pump may not seem like much.  Located in an area of red sand dotted with a few trees with locusts buzzing around them, it may even seem like ‘roughing it’ but to the recipients, these houses are a precious gift that filled them with joy.

How do I know this?  Because of communication.

We interviewed several of the proud new owners.  They did not speak French: the language of the educated in Niger. They spoke local dialects of  Hausa and Zarma.  Our interpreter did not speak English so Charlotte posed questions in English, I translated into French, our translator then spoke to the new house owners in Hausa and then translated their responses back into French whereupon I translated back into English.  All this is 43 degree heat at midday.

Never have I enjoyed struggling with my French and being so hot.  The joy that filled the recipients was so uplifting.  No language was needed to interpret the smiles on their faces and the pride in their eyes as they each were allocated a house by the chief of their group.  After inspecting their house, one by one they tried out the new metal water pump, placing metal cups or their cupped hands under the pumped water, laughing like children as they did so.

Possibly the most moving moments came as it was time for the group to be helped back onto the two flat back trucks that had bought them along the bumpy sandy road to the site.   Struggling with damaged hands, many with barely any fingers, each person locked their new house with its key.  And these were not just new houses but first houses.  The first time any of the group had owned a house of their own, amongst a community who valued and supported each other.  No longer would they be at the mercy of a landowner who may evict them from their make shift houses at any time.  Now they each had a home.

Yes, home is a much stronger word than house.  It communicates so much more doesn’t it?  It’s a pity I can only remember the French for house: maison.  I must look up home when I finally return to mine later today.

Locking up his first house, a leprosy affected man in Niger
A low cost housing project brings new hope and new lives to a leprosy affected community