Healthcare workers supported by effect:hope identify and treat people with leprosy and Lymphatic Filariasis.
MARKHAM, ON (March 28, 2018) – As Christians around the world prepare for Easter, some churches will incorporate the act of foot washing into their services.
This revolutionary act demonstrates care and humility, and in history, was performed by the lowest household servants. In central India, a team of healthcare workers is caring for people with leprosy and Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), and part of that care includes washing feet.
Leprosy and LF are physically painful and disfiguring diseases that carry heavy social stigma. LF (also called elephantiasis) causes an individual’s limbs to swell until they mimic those of elephants. Forty percent of all global LF diagnoses and 60 percent of all leprosy diagnoses have been identified in India.
The team is supported by the Sankalp program funded by effect:hope, a Christian development organization based in Markham, Ontario, that has been providing life-saving care, access to medicine, surgeries, education, and hope to people with leprosy and other diseases of poverty since 1892.
“Sankalp means ‘determination’ and describes our unrelenting attitude toward finding people who are suffering from disease and ostracized from society,” says Maneesh Phillip, Director of International Programs at effect:hope. “We enter those remote areas, provide treatment, show sufferers how to care for themselves so their conditions don’t worsen and educate communities to reduce stigma.”
At Sankalp’s community health event, patients learned self-care techniques, including massage and stretching exercises to boost the lymphatic system. Some patients, such as Mr. Nonelal, have a history with effect:hope. He previously learned the techniques after having reconstructive surgery through effect:hope due to a leprosy-related disability in the past, but attended the event to refresh his skills. He also craved company as he said that, even though he was healed, people still refused to sit with him or talk to him due to the immense stigma these diseases carry. At the event, he beamed when a team member showed genuine care and sat right beside him.
“For many of our patients, the emotional aspects of these diseases far outweigh the physical,” says Mr. Phillip. “When people fear your presence and treat you like you are the disease, it destroys the spirit.
“Our role is to treat them with dignity, respect and compassion so their community will do the same.”
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effect:hope (formerly The Leprosy Mission Canada) is a Christian development organization focused on curing and caring for people living with leprosy and other neglected tropical diseases. For more information, visit www.effecthope.org.
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