"They Need More Care and Recognition" - Kunming Christians Talk about Leprosy Survivors

Elderly leprosy survivors in a village of Kunming, Yunnan
Elderly leprosy survivors in a village of Kunming, Yunnan
By Yi YangMarch 1st, 2019

In this era of continuous development and progress in society, leprosy has become history. Only a few people know the existence of leprosy survivors and occasionally visit them.

Recently, a Christian brother (we name him Brother A here) who often went to leprosy villages in Kunming talked with the author,  about the story of him and other brothers and sisters serving the special group.

He recalled that his first contact with leprosy was in the Leprosy Village of Dongchuan in Kunming eight years ago. It was difficult to find the place, and it took almost two hours to walk there through roads on mountains. What is more special is that people with leprosy there in the disease period are elder people, with more than 20 of them. "There are very few outsiders who know their situation."

Brother A said that after they went, they began to understand the needs of the elderly, giving them some daily necessities and medicine, and helped them deal with the wounds. If there was no local co-worker, it is difficult to get in touch, and people who are sick are still contagious and some medical knowledge is needed for offering help. He said that dressing wounds and praying for these old people was a process full of struggles.

These leprosy patients are almost isolated from the rest of the world. The outside world does not know their existence. In fact, Brother A shares that they do not want the outside world to know that this particular group exists. Only a few local co-workers visit them from time to time.

The second leprosy village that Brother A and his co-workers went to was in Anning, Kunming, where there were more than 50 elderly people whose leprosy had been healed, but with partial disabilities. After many visits, most of the old people there became Christians, and then the local ministers of Kunming cultivated them in faith.

The most important thing concerning Brother A is the leprosy village in Yiliang area of Kunming because he and his brothers and sisters are funding three children there. Before, they went every six months, usually with rice, oil or clothes for the elderly, and a sister who is a doctor went there together.

He also found that there was a girl whose mother passed away. His father suffered from mental illness and left home. She could only live with her brother and grandparents who were suffering from leprosy. Many children live in Leprosy village and need to pay for living fees to continue school. Therefore, since last spring, the brothers and sisters have settled down and provided the children with a monthly fee of 2,000 per person to help them attend school. He is very worried about the psychological distortion of the children.

Brother A found that outsiders feel that the needs of leprosy village are material, but actually, they need more psychological care. "They have a big gap from hearts, they are not cared for, and they are in isolation." When chatting with these old people, the believers found that there were many things in the hearts of the old people who need to talk and eager to live a normal life. "What they need is love, being free from loneliness."

Every time when being visited, knowing nothing about the outside world, the old people in the leprosy villages would like to talk about their beliefs and living condition, of which most are trivial things in life. At the end of each visit, when everyone was about to leave, the old people took out the fruits of labor, that is, the production of peanuts and vegetables in the fields, to brothers and sisters. "They are very sensitive. We can't refuse when they give us something. Otherwise, they will feel that they are being dismissed." Brother A told the author that they need to let the old people feel approval and acceptance.

There is no normal family life, in a lack of communication and care, and no worship of faith, so they are not normal on many levels. Because of this, Brother A hopes that more people can care and love for the lepers.

- Translated by Ze Wang

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