Sunday, August 23, 2009


We visited a leprosarium on Saturday. It was called Nazareth. Leprosy still exists in the world, but thankfully the cases are decreasing every year. I was prepared to feel very overwhelmed, but it seemed to be a place filled with hope. We were greeted upon entering by a very friendly man with no toes or fingers who showed us a new contraption that has just been invented that helps him to eat on his own. basically it is a velcro strap that ties around what is left of his hand, and then things like a toothbrush or comb or spoon can be attached to it. So cool. He modeled brushing his teeth for us very proudly. The rather abrasive and intense man who ran the leprosarium, Enoch, showed us all around and I met a bunch of people. What struck me the most was how welcoming the residents were to us. Many are staying there for the rest of their lives, and they happily showed us their beds and few possessions. I was also very impacted by the people who were working there. many had leprosy themselves (like the cook) but were serving the others and cleaning wounds. What a fantastic example of dignity. Just because someone is deemed "unfit" or "unusable" by society does not mean they cannot serve others. I saw that in action at Nazareth. And I think that plays out in lots of different situations of prejudice or misunderstanding, not just leprosy. It was a Catholic place, and I felt overall that they really caught the vision of being the hands and feet of Jesus on earth. The people who live there are people. Not hideous or forgotten creatures unworthy of anything. They had a garden overflowing with veggies, and a caring staff. Everything obviously wasnt perfect, and they are very poor, but it was a really cool place nontheless.

We went on a long hike today in the Udzungwa Mountains. We went to the top of a waterfall and looked out over sugarcane plantations and small villages. My partner and I talked to our guide a bit about malaria, and he thought that if you just drink enough water once you are sick, it will go away. I told him if he sees his friends doing this, he should tell them to go the hospital. A lot of people around here simply don't know that. Education is such a key part of ending deaths from malaria. And we had a session on anemia in class on Friday. Turns out getting rid of malaria will also cause a sharp decrease in anemia patients in the hospitals, freeing the doctors to admit more sick people.

I love being here again. I feel like I am kind of holding my breath and I am not really aware of it, and when I get to Tanzania suddenly there is this large exhale. It is really wonderful.

Time for bed. 4 am Ramadan breakfasts come early.

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