Kashi has been caring for others affected by leprosy for nearly 30 years at The Leprosy Mission Anandaban Hospital in Nepal. Binding their wounds, cleaning their ulcerated feet and treating all with compassion and love.
Now in charge of the Self Care Unit at the hospital, Kashi is regarded with much love and respect and the patients cannot speak highly enough of him.
“He is not disgusted by our sores”; “he is willing to touch us”; are common comments from those who come to spend time at the unit.
He is someone who is willing to take care of them, and does not turn away at the sight of weeping ulcers. He therefore brings both comfort and hope to the patients.
Kashi’s compassion was born out of his own suffering. The first signs that he was affected by leprosy came at seven years of age with a white spot on his thigh.
Leprosy was a feared disease, and although over a dozen other people in his village suffered from it, it was seen as a ‘curse from the gods’.
What followed was a long period of exclusion and rejection.
Kashi was banned from the house and he lived in the animal shed and cared for the buffalo. He was not allowed to go to school or to play with the other children. It was a very lonely and distressing time for a young child.
Kashi suffed complications from leprosy and he was referred to The Leprosy Mission’s Anandaban Hospital. He ended up staying there a year and 7 months for treatment.
“He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” Psalm 147:3
Kashi wanted to return home. “It was my village and where I had grown up. Even though they had treated me badly. It was better after I had been away for 19 months as I was older and I was given a certificate to say that I was clear of leprosy and I was allowed to live in the house.”
But in 1989 his hand had become so clawed that he returned to Anandaban for surgery which would allow him to open and close his fingers again.
Kashi needed to stay seven weeks, but after just a week he wanted to leave. He felt he had ‘nothing useful to do’.
What he really wanted was to help other leprosy-affected people in practical ways. So over the following weeks he started cleaning and bandaging the wounds of people affected by leprosy.
Perhaps because he had had the experience of caring for his own wounds, Kashi quickly became an expert, bandaging the wounds in such a way that the dressings never seemed to come off.
Kashi loved the work, so the hospital said they would try and find him a position there.
“I went back to my village to pray, and within six months I got a letter offering me a position. That was the happiest moment of my life when I got that letter.”
So for nearly 30 years, Kashi (who became a Christian 20 years ago) has worked at the hospital. He began by cleaning the dishes and helping patients to the bathroom but for the past 10 years has been running the Self Care Unit on the grounds of the hospital.
Those who stay, prepare and cook their own meals, help look after the animals, and do a small amount of farming. While they do these day-to-day activities Kashi shows them how to do all this without injuring themselves. He teaches them how to properly care for their hands, feet and face.
Kashi is a humble man, and is simply pleased that he is able to ‘extend the hand of help and friendship’ to those suffering like he once did.
“It is an amazing thing and a blessing that I am able to work with these leprosy patients. I am happy that I am able to touch their hearts.”
To help mark World Leprosy Sunday, Kashi will be coming to Australia in January and February, attending and speaking at events around the country. Please pray for safe travel for Kashi and his daughter, who will be coming to interpret for him. And pray also for those at the Self Care Unit at Anandaban Hospital he is leaving behind temporarily in order to come visit with us! Thank you.