© Marina Aarts Photography

Honor and shame from no condition rise. Act well thy part: There all the honor lies. – Alexander Pope

 

Leprosy is a mildly infectious disease caused by a bacteria, Mycobacterium Leprae. The disease mainly affects the skin and peripheral nerves. This disease is known since ancient times and fears and myths surrounding the disease have persisted to the present time.

Many people are under the impression that Leprosy does not exist anymore. They are wrong. Even though over the past fifty years considerable progress was made in understanding and treating the disease, every year 30 new cases are documented in Singapore alone. But thankfully these days through timely diagnosis and treatment no more cases of deformity are seen.

6.DSC_7374 copy_silraSome of these patients are being put out on the street by their family, others loose the use of limbs and cannot make their own living anymore. Instead of ending up on the street, they find a home at the Singapore Leprosy Relief Association (SILRA).

Established in 1971, the Home provides food, lodging, recreation and healthcare services for ex-leprosy patients. It also teaches the patients some handicraft skills and rehabilitative work. Eligibility criteria are ex-leprosy sufferers who are destitute.

Some of the patient’s stories are heart wrenching –youngsters who years ago were literally abandoned by their families. Few people want to admit they have a family member with leprosy and prefer to tell everyone they are only friends with the patient..

With the diminishing number of leprosy cases, there are plans to eventually turn the facility into an old age home – to make efficient use of the building. Also other lesser skin diseases will be treated here.

silralogoFor more information, visit their website. If you’d like to volunteer, click here for an overview of the options.