People with leprosy are sent to isolated places without families or friends to support them emotionally of physically. They are abandoned and forgotten by society. The Shalom Leprosy Compassion Ministry has a heart for these people and organizes groups of volunteers to travel to leprosy villages and provide medical, living, and psychological assistance.
A few days ago, Lao Yang gave us a phone call. He repeatedly asked us to help him take a few pictures. It was a small request, and he should not have needed me to come down from Kunming about 50 km away. Anyone could have helped take a picture - why did he ask us?
After we reached Lao Yang’s house, we discovered that he wanted to apply for a disability certificate which required a photo of half of his body. Embarrassed about his disease, he was afraid that he might be looked down upon if he asked anyone else for a favor, so he resorted to calling on us for assistance.
While we were taking the pictures for Lao Yang, we could clearly see his deformed remnant of a body and I could not help but feel ashamed. Although leprosy can be controlled and be cured, many people still avoid the disease like the plague. Old Lao Yang says he still feels inferior to other people. The fact that he has been forced to live deep in the mountains away from his village does not help his self-confidence.
Poverty, disease, and physical pain -- common struggles for leprosy patients -- can be overcome. But, the difficulties with loneliness and helplessness are more difficult to handle. Perhaps, what people with leprosy need aren't just towels, medicine, or food; just as importantly, they need our love, company, and open hearts.
Original story was written by the founder of the Shalom Leprosy Compassion Ministry, Ping Liang. It was translated by TFish staff Shishi Ma, and edited by U.S. intern Isabel Auyeung.
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