Khokana Leper Colony
Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases known to humankind. Often identified as a disease from long ago in Biblical times, people are often quite surprised to know it still exists. Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a slowly multiplying bacteria, called mycobacterium leprae. Identified in 1837, the disease attacks nerve endings, destroying the ability to feel pain and injury. Without the gift of pain, everyday activities are fraught with danger. Over time, infections and injuries can lead to the loss or disfiguration of fingers, hands, toes and feet. Unnoticed burns and ulcers can lead to more permanent disabilities. Due to the simple inability to detect grit in the eye, blindness can also be a consequence of leprosy. However, it is curable through a regimen of multi-drug therapy.
According to World Health Organization statistics, there were well over 200 thousand new cases of leprosy diagnosed globally in 2016 alone. Many in first world countries such and the United States are unaware that the disease still exists. Due to the profound social stigma surrounding the disease, patients are very reluctance to seek out treatment. This, more often than not, only exasperates the condition and chance of leading a normal life. World Leprosy day coincides with the passing of Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi’s death in 1948, usually very late in January. The aim of World Leprosy Day is to change attitudes towards leprosy and increase awareness of the fact that leprosy can now be easily prevented and cured.
A BEAUTIFUL PLACE FOR A BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
Khokana was established in 1857 on the southern far southern outskirts of Kathmandu Valley for a member of the ruling Rana Dynasty, who had contracted leprosy. Though they were cast out of the central city area, Khokana is a beautiful location against the Bagmati River and has a much cooler temperature than Kathmandu city proper in the heat of summer.
THE IMPACT OF OUR WORK WITHIN KHOKANA LEPROSY COLONY
Touch Nepal made our first trip to Khokana over ten years ago. The average person living in Khokana now receives 1,500 Rs (rupees) per month or the approximate value of 15.00 US per month. That is not a typographical error, 50 cents per day. They also receive a small amount of lower quality rice, salt, lentils for making dhal and soap for washing clothes. That is approximately another 11.00 worth of food which is supposed to be their monthly substance. Just a year ago it was only 25 cents per day but Krishna Maya, an important voice and advocate for the people there, took a group of people to NELRA (Nepal Leprosy Relief Association) to advocate for their situation. The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare are the ones that control the money but it is NELRA that distributes the funds. Because of the voice of Krishna Maya, changes such as this have been taking place within Khokana Leper Colony. But life is not only about food. Who helps them when they have other needs? Who will visit them when they are sick or take them to the hospital or to appointments? Many don't have anyone to turn to. Krishna Maya even cooks and cares for those who are in most need there. When we conduct outreach we are able to give them items they don't normally receive such as tea (important to their culture), sugar and oil for cooking. We are also able to distribute other items for hygiene and skin care which are also appreciated.
Sure, we always hope to have opportunity to share our story but we don't do this work to covert people. We do this work to love people and it must be this way. People are not projects or issues. Hindu people are not an issue which needs to be resolved. Hindus are people which need to be loved.
The people were delighted and appreciated the voice of Krishna Maya on their behalf. Krishna Maya is in charge of food distribution within Khokana. Krishna Maya is also a committee member of IDEA Nepal which tries to address the social needs of leprocy effected people. IDEA and NELRA work together in partnership to change social perceptions.
A CALL TO PARTNERSHIP WITH US.
Reach every village. Touch every heart. ™