|A woman with Hansen's disease in Sri Lanka being visited|
by my daughter.
Meghan explained that those who have Hansen’s Disease at the colony (there were approximately
fifty) she visited were very happy to see people who were not afraid of them and who were willing to pray with them. Her team also played music for them and the women loved to dance. You'll see more pictures of Meghan and the residents living in the colony throughout this post. It’s hard to imagine how isolated these people are from the rest of society. They face discrimination throughout the world and at least twenty countries refuse to permit them to travel, marry, or work. More on that subject can be found here.
Leprosy remains endemic in poorer parts of the world. In 2006 there were approximately 260000 new cases reported world wide. India currently has about 54% of all the new leprosy cases in the world, followed by Brazil with about 17%, then Indonesia with about 7%. Other countries reporting more than 1000 new cases in 2006 include: Angola, Bangladesh, China, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
When I decided to write this blog post and began my research I immediately found Neil White’s memoir called, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts. This amazing book takes you to Carville, Louisiana where I discovered there was a Federal Medical Center that housed federal prisoners with residents who suffered from Hansen’s Disease also known as leprosy. In my ignorance I didn’t think leprosy existed any longer in America.
An article on WebMD states, “Today, about 180,000 people worldwide are infected with leprosy, according to the World Health Organization, most of them in Africa and Asia. About 200 people are diagnosed with leprosy in the U.S. every year, mostly in the South, California, Hawaii, and some U.S. territories.” And the CDC reports that it is now easily treatable with combined use of antibiotics.
From the CDC:
The bacteria that cause Hansen's disease grow very slowly. It may take 2-10 years before signs and symptoms appear.
Symptoms mainly affect the skin, nerves, and mucous membranes (the soft, moist areas just inside the body's openings).
The disease can cause:
•Skin lesions that may be faded/discolored
•Growths on the skin
•Thick, stiff or dry skin
•Numbness on affected areas of the skin
•Eye problems that may lead to blindness
•Enlarged nerves (especially those around the elbow and knee)
•A stuffy nose
•Ulcers on the soles of feet
Since Hansen’s disease affects the nerves, loss of feeling or sensation can occur.The CDC offers information about many diseases including leprosy. Here’s a link:
In Chapter One of Neil White’s memoir he states, “Through the windows I saw a man limping in the hallway. He stopped at the last arched window … He was a small black man wearing a gentleman’s hat. Through the screen his face looked almost flat. … I waved. He waved back, but something was wrong with his hand. He had no fingers.”
I encourage you to read more about Neil’s amazing journey as he enters Carville as a federal convict and learns to love his fellow residents who suffer with Hansen’s Disease. Here’s a link to his book.
Carville is now used as a camp for high risk youth.I’m giving away a $15 Amazon gift card as a way of spreading a little joy. Today is Palm Sunday, leave a comment regarding something you’ve learned from this post or the links provided or some experience or knowledge you have pertaining to Hansen’s disease and you will be eligible to win.
I’ll pick the winner via Random.org on Saturday, April 4th prior to Easter Sunday. All comments must be in by midnight Pacific Time(in order to win) on Friday April 3rd . A little gift for your Easter basket. Please join me in praying for those affected throughout the world with Hansen’s disease.