Caring for Victims of Leprosy

by Lori Overcash

When you think of a small town community, you may envision families sitting on the front porch, children playing in the yard, neighbors chatting with each other. Behind some homes you may find a small garden while in other yards you may see a small chicken coop.

There is a barbershop on the corner, and as you walk by you hear a conversation between the barber and the man who is getting a shave. Next door a cobbler is making a pair of shoes. At the end of the street there is a medical clinic where the sick can find help. And right in the center of the neighborhood there is a church where the community comes together to worship.

Sounds like a nice place to live, doesn't it? But before you make plans to relocate there, you may want to know that this is a description of AMG's Valley of Love leprosy community in Vishakapatnam, India.

The Valley of Love was built in 1978 with the idea of creating a community in which leprosy victims can live a normal life. They lost that "right" in mainstream Indian society when they became leprous. They were forced from their homes and jobs when it became known that they were carriers of the disease. But Valley of Love provides them with a place where they can return to the life they once knew. At Valley of Love, men can once again practice their trade and feel the pride that accompanies providing support for their families.

For families and individuals who are able to care for themselves and live alone, AMG provides duplexes. Praise the Lord! These duplexes in many ways could be compared to what we think of as "assisted living." The residents live on their own but can get help if it is needed.

However, as people age, and especially as they suffer the effects of leprosy, they need nursing home care. Currently patients who are in need of advanced care have been staying in "custodial wards"-one for men and one for women. These buildings are old and in disrepair, and after much study, it has been determined that it would cost more to repair them than it would to build a new building.

The new plan calls for one building to replace the two we currently have. The new facility will have a kitchen and dining facility in the center, with a men's wing on one side and a women's wing on the other. It is our desire to provide a nice, comfortable place where these dear leprosy victims can be cared for during the final stages of their lives.

The total cost of the new facility is $65,000, and we have already received $10,500 to get started. If you would like to have a part in providing care for these leprosy victims, please mark your donation for the Valley of Love nursing home. Thank you for caring.

Lori Overcash is assistant manager
of development at AMG.

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