Tembu, DRC

When Tembu was working in the fields, neighbours noticed patches of discoloured skin on her arms and legs. Rumours spread like wildfire throughout the village that Tembu was cursed and shouldn’t be allowed to stay among them. 

Tembu had leprosy and her neighbours were terrified. “The community laughed at me,” she tells us. “I lost my mother and uncle and only my husband stayed. Everyone else rejected me and said it was a bad disease. They said others will catch it because of me and then everyone in our village will die.” This response to leprosy is very common throughout most of the DRC.

Tembu was determined to get treatment. But she had no way of traveling to Tshikapa, our nearest clinic. No one would give her a ride. So in her torn sandals, Tembu walked 40km to get the help she needed. Along the way, the rocks and sticks gouged into her skin – yet she felt nothing. At the hospital, the diagnosis of leprosy was confirmed and Tembu was given Multi-Drug Therapy to cure her of the mycobacterium leprae that cause leprosy.

Her injuries from the walk were treated and the doctors stressed the importance of ongoing care and protection of her feet to avoid permanent damage. 

She is on her way to complete healing, but Tembu’s story would be so much different had she been diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. That’s why it’s so important that we diagnose leprosy immediately, reducing the number of long-term disabilities. For those who are being treated for leprosy, effect:hope’s community-based rehabilitation means they will have someone to monitor for concerns as they work to rebuild their lives.

DRC

In the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), leprosy, and complications of lymphatic filariasis are pervasive. A shortage of healthcare workers and clinics leaves patients without care and at a greater risk of permanent disability and death.

Cure Someone of Leprosy

Early diagnosis and cure is the best method we currently have for leprosy affected patients. In order to reduce disability and stigma caused by this fully-curable disease, health workers, community members and government workers are trained for early detection, proper treatment, and stigma reduction. Leprosy awareness education sessions and workshops are also held for the public. For those who already attained disabilities due to leprosy, our programs provide protective footwear and assistive devices such as crutches, wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs.
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