Stories from the Mission Field

September 2020

Everyday Life in a Leper Colony

Medical Help in India

The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody. Mother Teresa

They still exist: leprosy, a bacterial infectious disease. Skin and nerve cells are attacked, and in severe cases the face, hands, and feet are mutilated.

And there is also still the fear of the sick and the outcast of the convalescents.

Just over 100 families live in the leprosy colony outside the village of Amancharla in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Most of them had leprosy and are considered cured. The disease is treatable and the government bears the costs. But the consequences of leprosy remain:

Janani (name changed) has been living in the leper colony for a long time. The worst thing is the feeling of being despised by the rest of society. Janani is already old and has lost a foot as a result of the disease. She could get a prosthesis but that scares her. Her husband wears an orthopedic shoe and has even been trained to make similar shoes for others affected by the disease. But Janani is still afraid.

NPBSS, a Baptist organization and long-standing partner of EBM International, helps those affected like Janani. In regular visits, the employees talk to the sick and those recovering from illness about what they are worried about and pray with them. They distribute food, vitamin preparations, and tinctures that relieve the suffering. Even after official healing, there is often a need for medical help: secondary illnesses are treated and patients receive support in coping with their everyday lives.

The inhabitants of the colony will probably stay here all their lives. There are numerous children and teenagers, most of them are healthy. In small stores you can buy food and hygiene products. The state has made sure that the place gets permanent houses and streets. But at the same time it has prevented the people from being resettled and returning to their homes. The families should stay where they are.

This makes it all the more important, in addition to medical aid, to provide spiritual service to the children, men, and women there. Especially the elderly wish to spend the rest of their lives in dignity. This is where the gospel unfolds its healing and saving power: The brothers and sisters of the church let their neighbors know that they are precious and loved. And that God himself came to earth in Jesus Christ to meet people like them.

The help for people in the leprosy colony in India is exemplary for more than 30 projects worldwide that serve people in the medical field. Together with numerous communities, we are inviting people to donate to health care projects for the thanksgiving offering 2020.