Rufiji Leprosy Trust is a charitable trust supporting the Kindwitwi Leprosy Care Centre in the Rufiji area of Tanzania.
The care centre assists in:
~ finding and treating people living with leprosy in the Rufiji area
~ supporting people all people affected by leprosy throughout the Rufiji area
~ promoting self-sufficiency of people living with leprosy and their families.
As leprosy is curable, many think the disease is no longer a problem, however it is listed as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) by the World Health Organisation, which means it is especially common in some of the world’s poorest areas.
The Trust prides itself on being totally managed by volunteer Trustees; the only paid employees are those who carry out the Trust’s work in Tanzania.
The day was established by French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau in 1954, who after meeting a person affected by leprosy felt more needed to be done to fight the disease’s stigma. Raoul.
Each year World Leprosy Day generally falls around the nearest Sunday to 30 January. This is the day Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian leader and international figure was assassinated. Gandhi was a major figure in the fight to raise leprosy awareness and always went out of his way to befriend people living with leprosy, not just in India, but in other countries also.
Worldwide, there are four million people disabled by leprosy and one in ten leprosy cases are children. In the last quarter alone, we diagnosed six new cases of leprosy and our specialist shoemaker provided 41 people living with leprosy tailor-made shoes to help them walk.
Leprosy is curable, but despite much education, stigma is still a huge problem in many parts of the world; people are unable to find work, marry, and are being ostracised from their homes just because they have leprosy. Even the families of those living with leprosy can suffer this stigma.
Please help raise awareness of one of the oldest, but curable diseases in the world by joining our #MyHandsandFeet campaign by posting pictures of your hands and feet on social media.
Don't forget to use #WorldLeprosyDay and #MyHandsandFeet.
Ukoma Hutibika - leprosy is curable!Click to read full story
Leprosy has been feared and misunderstood for millennia. Some of the earliest records about the disease appear on an Egyptian papyrus document around 1550 BC although the bacteria M.leprae is thought to have been around for much longer; in 2009, a 4000-year-old human skeleton was discovered in India with erosion patterns similar to those found in European skeletons dating to the middle ages.
There are references to leprosy in the bible and it was also recognised in ancient China. Leprosy is recorded in ancient Greece when Alexander the Great came back from India and later from Rome in 62BC.
The disease spread into Europe and by 1200, there was estimated to be around 19,000 leprosy hospitals in the continent.
In older times, because little was understood about leprosy, it was thought to be a curse or a punishment of the gods. People living with leprosy were feared and declared unclean. They were shunned and because leprosy was believed to be hereditary, whole families could be stigmatized, not just the infected person.
In the European Middle Ages, people with leprosy had to wear special clothing and ring bells to warn healthy people to keep away. In a bid to prevent the spread of the disease, people were sent to live in a leprosy asylum or leprosarium. This practice was common throughout the world even in the 20 Century, and there are records of these forced seclusions in countries such as Hawaii and New Zealand.
Leprosy was sometimes referred to as the ‘living death’. In some cases, individuals were treated as if they’d already died; funeral services were held and relatives were even allowed to claim their inheritance!
As well as the social stigma and isolation, the medicinal treatment for these poor people in olden times was pretty unsavoury.
Some ancient texts have suggested cures by either drinking or bathing in blood, while others endorsed treatment with snake, scorpion and bee venom. Fish excreta has also been tried. One common treatment, which was used up until the late 1940s, was to inject the patient with chaulmoogra nut oil. This was very painful for the individual and although there appeared to be some benefits, and some physicians even declared people were cured, its long-term effects were questionable.
Thankfully with modern medicine and education, attitudes are changing as people realise the true nature of the infectious disease which can be cured by a specialised course of antibiotics.
Sunday, 31 January 2016 is World Leprosy Day.
The aim of World Leprosy Day is to change attitudes and increase public awareness of the fact that leprosy can now be easily prevented and cured.
Spread the word!
Be a part of our #MyHandsandFeet campaign by taking a picture of your hands and feet and sharing on social media. Don't forget to use the hashtags #WorldLeprosyDay and #MyHandsandFeet
Your hands and feet can make a difference.Click to read full story
This is the ninth clip from our historical archive audio, showcasing Father Robin Lamburn talking of education and the importance of schooling in the village.
While RLT places great value on these unique historic documents and the insight they offer into the life of the founder of Kindwitwi, Fr Robin, the personal reflections and faith that he shares do not necessarily represent the views of the Trust. For those of you who want to hear the material please visit our special pages and see below:Click to read full story