Yesterday, 9 September, we had a stirring service presided over by Mrs Helen Walton of the Leprosy Mission (https://www.leprosymission.org.uk/). She spoke of her recent visit to Niger, and emphasised the plight of one typical family. The grandmother, Habsou, had leprosy, was blind and had clawed hands. Her daughter, Mariama, who was spared leprosy by being separated from her, was given to another relative and treated like a slave. She was forced into marriage to a much older man at the age of 15. The granddaughter, Saoude, was finishing primary school, but girls are not usually sent to secondary school. She wants to become a nurse, and Helen appealed for funds to support her continuing education.
Leprosy is now treatable, but knowledge of the disease is poor, which militates against early recognition and referral for treatment. The end result of the disease is loss of nerve sensation, damage to limbs, vision and disfigurement. Fear drives isolation and ostracism.