Suley Abubakar was 34 and happily working in a fish shop when he started to notice the nodules on his face. Then his face became swollen… eventually he could no longer open his eyes. He had to use his fingers to pry open his eyelids. How could he continue working with this condition? And that wasn’t all…
“I lost feeling in my hands and they became clawed. I didn’t know what was happening. I started taking different types of traditional medicine but it didn’t work. I was getting worse and worse.”
Fortunately for Suley, about two months after his symptoms appeared he had a chance encounter that would change his life forever.
“I was sitting at a gas station and some people came through to get fuel who were in a wedding party. A man named Shehu was with them. He came over to me and told me that I should come over to see him at the Gusau leprosy clinic.”
The following day Suley arrived at the clinic to find Shehu distributing medicine. He offered some to Suley as well. “He asked me if I knew what was happening to me and I told him no. He told me I had leprosy.”
For most people, finding out they have leprosy is a major shock. Often, they are frightened of the disease and the stigma it causes. But for Suley it was like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
“I was so worried when I didn’t know what was happening. So it was a great relief to finally have a diagnosis. I also had hope because I saw Shehu’s skin had cleared and Shehu comforted me by telling me that he had been through the same situation.”
Now Suley had hope! Within a week of starting treatment Suley’s skin was clear and he could open his eyes again. What a blessing it was that he received treatment before leprosy caused permanent damage and disability! What a blessing it was that Shehu spotted him and was able to recognise his condition as leprosy… rather than a curse or something to make fun of . Sadly, this happens to so many others with the disease.
“I was so happy. Before this people would laugh at me when they saw me, so I became afraid of going near people. Now people don’t treat me any differently.”
Thanks to your generosity, Suley received his leprosy cure. He is now married and has four children – two boys and two girls. They attend a local primary school. Suley is grateful none of them have leprosy.
This happy father also received a small grant to start a business selling fuel. Suley uses the money he earns from this business to pay for his children’s school fees… and the occasional toy for them!
Now Suley wants to say a heartfelt thank you.
“I’m very grateful I’ve been cured. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I am so thankful for your support of this project which means that I could get cured. Because of your support I wasn’t reduced to begging. There are many others like me who have been supported to start their own businesses also.”
You can further support people affected by leprosy in Nigeria by calling The Leprosy Mission Australia TOLL FREE on 1800 LEPROSY (1800 537 767) or visiting the Nigeria Project Page.