Leprosy was the reason for Sangwan’s parents’ divorce and she never again lived with her mother. So when she was nine and began to show signs of leprosy on her arms, her father sent her to live at the McKean children’s hostel and receive treatment.
Unfortunately, due to suffering the leprosy complication Reaction, she came up in lumps and bumps and had nerve pain. This meant painful months of long hospital stays.
But eventually, and for the first time, she was able to start learning to read and write. Thanks to McKean’s small school. In the holidays she was given the opportunity to learn the traditional Thai art of lacquerware making in McKean’s craft department. Due to her prompt treatment and physiotherapy, Sagwan’s hands did not develop further weakness or disability and she became highly skilled.
When she was 19, Sangwan married one of the other young patients who was also training in McKean vocational department. They now have two daughters. Neither has contracted leprosy.
Sangwan heads the small team of patients with disabilities making beautiful cut out cards, lined with hand made and dyed mulberry paper. These cards are featured in The Leprosy Mission Australia’s gift catalogue.
Sangwan and her team are delighted to be able to support their families by the sales of their handicrafts. When you give these handmade cards to your friends and family you will be supporting the livelihood of people affected by leprosy and disability, like Sangwan.