In June 2014 I got the opportunity to visit a leprosy village, Quy Hoa, in Vietnam. For those who have never heard of leprosy: it is a chronic infection caused by a bacteria.It causes disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms and legs. There are people living in the village who have been cured. Some are married and have children. Some are old and live in an elderly home. There is a hospital in the village where the sick are being treated.
Many patients were ostracized by their family, because they used to see leprosy as a curse from God. A lady, who is now healthy, married and has two beautiful kids – told her story of how her mother left her in the forest. She was just a little girl, when the first symptoms of leprosy were visible. The villagers from where she used to live, thought that she was cursed. They were scared that they would be cursed too if she would stay any longer in the village. So they actually forced her mother to find a ‘solution’. The mother left her little girl in the forest, where she was found by a few nuns. They brought her to the leprosy village, where she now raises her children.
We were with 10 of us. We talked to the villagers, organized activities for children and helped in the elderly home. We have seen how prosthetics and special shoes are made for the patients. There were people whose hands or legs were amptutated.There were people who really missed their family, some of them have found their place in the village. They are making their own money by selling goods. You can see that the villagers are trying to make the best of life. A mother told me how proud she was of her daughter, because she does well at school and speaks the english language very well. She wants to become a doctor.
I really love children and it was amazing to spend some time with them. We played with kites, water balloons, twister, finger paint, chalk and many more. You should know that they are children who haven’t seen a cellphone or a tablet. They are happy with every mintue you spend with them. They have so much energy. Their smiles, the joy. Sometimes I miss them. They filled my heart with love and joy. Their smiles made me smile. I hope that I can visit them one day.
Vietnam really changed my way of living. It has taught me not to complain. There are people in this world who have been through so much. Who am I to complain? My life is much better than theirs. I have felt peace in a different way. No social media 24/7. No ‘how do I look?’. No ‘wasting of time’. I can say that I have lived life just that one week. I went, helped people, laughed, played: I couldn’t ask for more.
If you want to learn about life, you should travel. Travel, explore the world and meet new people.
Lots of Love!