Antonio lives on an island due north of Timor Leste’s capital city. It’s harsh and hot on At’Auro Island. A giant rock protruding from the sea, At’Auro is an unshielded receptacle for heat. The sole of my boat shoes even melted off on the boat ride there—the extreme heat and water too much for its glue. The hot climate makes farming incredibly difficult. Something that Antonio knows all too well…
Sunthorn was electrocuted when he was fifteen. He was three storeys high when the metal he was welding hit a powerline. Electricity coursed through him, burning much of his body. He spent eight months in a government hospital recovering. A surgeon trained by Dr Grace Warren recommended he come to the McKean Rehabilitation Centre for surgery and rehabilitation. Sunthorn had twenty different surgical procedures and many months of rehabilitation. Australia’s Dr Grace Warren performed skin grafts and tendon transfers—taking tendons from his legs and using them in his arms so that he could have movement in his hands. The hospital physiotherapist helped him join a trade school where he learned to paint. Sunthorn also completed 10th Grade through a correspondence school at that time.
Around 18 years ago Rangaraj developed unusual nodules on his face and leg. He didn’t know what was wrong. A gnawing concern compelled him to make the difficult journey across the mountains. A public hospital in Kathmandu recognised his signs as being leprosy. Upon this diagnosis, his wife left him because she feared she would contract leprosy. Medical staff at that hospital referred him to Anandaban hospital for treatment. When he arrived, Ranagaraj was depressed and scared. There were patients there who had clawed hands and amputations as a result of leprosy. He wanted to run away. He was terrified that the same thing would happen to him. But through the Hatia Self Help Group Rangaraj learned that leprosy is caused by a bacteria and is curable, that disabilities are preventable, and how important it is to treat leprosy early.
Like most of the artisans of Torulota Handicrafts, Nilufer Begum comes from a very poor family and never had the chance to go to school.
Meet Shuvam, a 14 year old boy who has suffered the effects of leprosy for four years. At age 10, a number of spots appeared on his hands, legs and back. He went to a skin doctor, but was given the wrong medicine and consequently, his condition deteriorated. However, after being alerted about the Anandaban Hospital by one of his friends, he received treatment and was soon cured. After finding out that he had been cured of the disease, Shuvam was overjoyed. He could see the spots disappearing from his skin and this confirmed that he was getting better. His parents were supportive through the entirety of his treatment and the family are incredibly thankful for the work of the The Leprosy Mission Australia.
Monimala was the eldest among her siblings. Being brought up in a poor family, she was only able to study up to eighth grade.