Holley Memorial Hospital (HMH) has a leprosy ward for patients who are receiving treatment and male and female residential areas (called colonies) close by. Patients admitted with leprosy can be on treatments for over two years and often remain in the hospital for the duration of their treatment. The patients often develop a kind of family unit within the ward, supporting each other as they face such a long period of treatment in hospital together.

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Unfortunately, the stigma or leprosy remains - some families reject leprosy patients because of their condition. Other families are committed to help and will often send the youngest child in the family to stay with their parent with leprosy to help look after them. For those who have no family to return to, or whose family have rejected them, they can stay within the colonies. Thankfully more and more patients are now being welcomed back home once they have completed their treatment for leprosy.

As a result of generosity of some Mission Africa supporters, we have been able to provide some much needed food to people on the leprosy wards. One man spoke on behalf of everyone in the colony, expressing his thanks to those who have helped to assist them in this way. They were grateful that they had not been forgotten. At times those in the colonies often struggle to have food to eat. One of the family members mentioned how, that very day of the food share, she was going to go to the market to try and buy what little food they could afford. They praised and gave thanks to God for this provision.

I have grown very fond of the people on the ward and colonies and try to spend some time, at least once a week, with them. We sing and pray together and at times I help the staff with their cooking and serving of food. We were grateful for the encouraging visit from Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church to HMH at the end of August. We had a time of fellowship together and carried out art therapy activities with the patients, which are now proudly hanging up in their wards. It was clear from their faces they really enjoyed this new experience.

Lives being changed

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One young girl, who I will name Joy, has been on treatment for a year and a half. Listening to her story, it is clear God was working in Joy’s life. She grew up among a Muslim family - her father was particularly strict. For Joy, though, she admitted that she always felt different and felt she carried out the practices more to please her dad. At the time she wasn’t aware why she felt different. Joy had just finished secondary school, when she first noticed signs, of what turned out to be leprosy. Her plan had been to continue further study as she is a bright young girl.

She met a lady one day who suggested Joy might have leprosy and told her about HMH. Joy lives six hours from the hospital and so to have met someone who informed her about the hospital was a “God thing”. When she received a dignosis, Joy left her family and moved to HMH to receive treatment. It was during this time that she began hearing the Gospel. Even though it was against what she had been taught, she made a commitment to follow Christ. Despite her ongoing leprosy and the physical limitations this causes her, she speaks with joy in her heart. Her father disowned her because of her turn to Christianity, but she says she has never felt loved the way she does now. She wants to also share with others the joy and love that people have shared with her. She can see how God has been helping her and is overwhelmed by the help and support of people in the community of Holley and Mission Africa supporters. She is amazed how people, who have never met her or the other patients at HMH, are still willing to help and send support. 

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Joy continues to learn each day. She attends Church and is learning to go through her Bible using a daily devotional book. The hospital, along with other supporters, plan to support her financially to go to the nearby college when she has completed her treatment.

This is just one of the examples of how practical support can have such a significant impact on the lives of others in this area. I have the privilege of seeing the end results of the support given by others but really I am so thankful for all those who have the heart and passion to be faithfully giving and praying back home. I just happen to be the vessel God is using to help share this support of others at this time. All glory continues to go to God.