At a glance, nothing looked remarkable about the cluster of homes separated from one another by small patches of grass, but an invisible barrier separated them from the surrounding city. The residents of these homes were leprosy patients, isolated from the outside world because others viewed them with fear.
Leprosy Leaves Little Hope
Of the 50 families living in this leprosy colony, almost all had at least two members with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Though the disease is curable and leaves minimal damage if detected early enough, patients from poorer backgrounds, like the residents of this colony, lacked access to treatment. Many ended up with irreparable nerve damage, resulting in damaged toes, fingers, ears, nose and eyes.
“My husband and I [have been] lepers many years,” said Nadea, a resident at the colony who also suffers from kidney failure. The medicine she needs is expensive, and she can’t always afford it. “I cry always thinking about our situation.”
Like Nadea, many of the colony’s residents suffered from other diseases in addition to their leprosy, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma. Their poverty ensured they could not afford the necessary treatment. Begging was the only way they could alleviate their situation—until GFA workers intervened.
All Receive Treatment
A group of Sisters of Compassion, GFA workers, served among the leprosy patients, providing meals, cleaning their homes and clothes and dressing their wounds. Touched by the Sisters’ care, many of the colony residents asked them to pray for them and read the Bible to them. The Sisters treated everyone with kindness, looking past their disease to see who they were: real people with real needs.
Knowing the residents’ need for medical treatment, the Sisters of Compassion and other GFA workers organized a free medical camp.
One chilly day, the workers, together with two doctors from local hospitals, gathered the families in the colony. The doctors patiently examined the patients and prescribed medicine to about 300 adults and 200 children. One by one, each resident experienced God’s love through encouraging words, smiles and help.
“Thank you all for your unforgettable service,” Nadea said. One of the doctors remarked, “I am incredibly blessed today to serve this underprivileged community. … It is a great help you have done [for] these poor people.”
Through the compassionate help of GFA workers, the people of this leprosy colony are finding hope. God’s love is breaking through every barrier that has kept them hidden in plain sight.