People with leprosy are sent to isolated villages where they are deemed as 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.
The night of 11/4, teacher Liang arranged a mini-van and told the driver to take off at 9:30 next morning for Luquan. The road condition is relatively good inside the city, but it got more bumpy as we got off the city limit. Especially when the mini-van traveled on the dirt road in the countryside, I felt as though the mini-van were dancing. As the road condition got less comfortable, my initial curiosity and excitement subsided, and my mind evolved into a state of unrest.
Before we entered the leprosy village in the mountain, we rarely see any pedestrians or cars, other than a few big trucks transporting mines. This tells us how remote and isolated this mountain village is. These villagers settled down here are all by themselves.
We took off at 9:30 am and arrived at 12:30 in the afternoon. The path of the entrance to the village was covered by weeds and we could barely see the road. The village seemed like it had been abandoned long ago.
Hearing the sound of car horns, old Xu ran and helped us open the car door. The first thing that caught our eyes was a cluster of bright yellow corn hanging under the eaves. These yellow corns brought a glimmer of vitality to the village.
The Luquan village is home to eight residents, but the day we went, only five were home. Please follow the photos below, and get to know these villagers!
Dr. Liang Ping took out a blood pressure meter from her back pack. She took old Yang and old Xu’s blood pressures first, because both of them have a history of high blood pressure. Old Yang is shown above. Take a closer look at his feet and you might notice that his fitted shoes appear loose. It is because his feet have festered. Dr. Liang asked old Yang several times if she could examine and dress his wounds, but old Yang refused – he felt uncomfortable showing his disfigured feet. Respecting his wishes, Dr. Liang left hehind some ointment so that he would be able dress his wounds later on by himself.
Dr. Liang told us that this predicament is common in the village. After the wounds begin to fester, the lepers’ self-esteem plummets and they become very reluctant to let others see the remnants of their disease. As a result, their condition actually got worse.
After measuring their blood pressure, Dr. Liang gave the two men some medicine for high blood pressure and the common cold. Her backpack is like a treasure chest in the eyes of these villagers, because she is always prepared to give them medications for common ailments free of charge. However, Dr. Liang realizes all of them are illiterate, and so she takes caution to not give out more than the dosage that is necessary.
(Left) This photo shows old Xu, he is the youngest in this village, just over 50 years old. Old Xu’s hands and feet have lost some mobility and are seriously deformed. Nonetheless, they are capable of planting some simple crops.
(Right) This old man, almost 80 years old, has hearing problem. His children have abandoned him because of his leprosy. Yet, he is very warm, and he insisted that we have to sit down and talk.
Very few visitors ever come to this village at all, except teacher Liang a regular visitor and government worker who comes to visit every three month to provide for their minimal needs.
(Left) Grandma Lee, 78 years old, has been blind for many years, but her hearing remains. She came out of her room when she heard our foot steps in the yard. Most of the elderly here have children, and so does Grandma Lee, but her children shy away from her and are reluctant to admit that she is their mom. They don’t want to their mother’s disease to bring discrimination against them, too.
(Right Top) Teacher Liang examined Grandma Lee's feet, but fortunately, her feet had not festered. Teacher Liang was pleased with her condition.
(Right Bottom) Grandma Lee also needed cold medicine. Teacher Liang repeatedly told her that she should take only two tablets each time, no more than three times per day. Even after we reminded Grandma Lee several times about the dosage, we still felt uneasy. Grandma Lee is blind and has difficulty telling the difference between day and night…would she be able to followed the directions we gave her?
Dr. Liang took us inside to take a look at grandma Lee’s room. We lowered our head as we walked in and out of her room. Other than feeling sorry for her condition, we did not know what was appropriate or inappropriate to say.
(Left) When we were about to leave to dress wounds for another 70-year-old man, Grandma Lee held on to Dr. Liang’s hands, reluctant to let her go. It has been a long time since anybody came to accompany her and talk to her. Grandma Lee's right hand is disfigured from leprosy, but still needs to cook, wash, and maintain her home. We really have no way of imagining how she manages all of this by herself.
(Right) Old Yang's right foot had a very severe ulceration. After teacher Liang examined the wounds, she immediately put old Yang’s feet in warm water for about ten minutes, then we applied ointment.
Dr. Liang’s friend from the United States brought the yellow ointment on old Yang’s feet. This ointment is very expensive but very effective in treating ulcerations. One application can last for 15 days. It’ll cause some pain when applied. Often, some patients do not want to endure the pain, so they will secretly remove the plaster. This leads to even more serious festering of extremities.
Dr. Liang hopes that these patients can stick with this ointment, because Old Xu in Chushan village did stick with ointment treatment, and his right leg and knee have healed!
Old Yan’s shoes are also shredded and his socks are worn out. These old people here only have a monthly subsidy of 60 yuans from government. They don’t have much extra money to buy these items.
The original article was written by Yun Yun, translated by TFish volunteer Joe Hsu.
TFISH FUND BLOG
We update news and reports directly from the field written by our NGO partners daily.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
IN THE NEWS