For the past year, the St Lazarus Charitable Trust has been able to support the work of Canon Pat Atkinson and the Vidiyal Trust, working in one of the most deprived areas of India. Canon Pat wrote in January:
“Today has been a red letter day in that I have been able to gain entry to the government leprosy home and clinic. It has taken 2 years, but I am over the moon to have finally broken a big barrier down! I have spent the whole of this afternoon with the patients, most of whom are severely disfigured. Several from the colony we have been helping for the past couple of years were there today for treatment, all of which helps with being accepted.
“The conditions in the home which houses 180 are really bad, but at last we are "in" now and we will gradually assess and respond to need. I am so pleased to now be in a position of acceptance, and thanks to your funding we can really help some of the very poorest.”
The intention had been to use our grant to provide an auto-rickshaw to transport patients to and from the hospital, but Canon Pat’s latest update tells us that plans hove now changed. She writes:
“I have been home for 2 weeks now, after spending a second afternoon in the leprosy home. This second visit changed the plans already made! Hospital visits are not that frequent, records show that only 12 visits have been made in the last 6 months, this does / did not justify the expense of a new rickshaw as our current ambulance can be utilised.
So we returned the rickshaw we had just purchased (with your funds) !
“A general meeting was called, and it became apparent that food and medication, plus antiseptics are the real need. Patients are supplied with rice, (poor quality), they grow some vegetables, have a few chickens - and some eat the monkeys who live in the site. Most of the patients have not left the site for several years. A government pension is given of around £10 monthly, this seems to be spent on supplementary foods - and cigarettes. After the general meeting I was able to visit individual "homes". It was obvious that my initial assessment of poor diet, lack of bandages and antiseptics was correct. I was also aware of a general apathy. They need to be hugged, loved and valued. They have nothing to look forward to, and their living conditions are really bad.
“So, what we would like to do with your grant is this :-
Provide 25kg of sugar every month. Cost £12 monthly. £144 pa
Provide a high protein 2 course feast every month. Cost £1 per head, food to be prepared in our kitchens and taken to the home. Cost £180 X 12. Cost £180 monthly £2160 pa
This leaves £700 for antiseptics, bandages, soap and toiletries - none of which I could see on my house visits. These are already being delivered, soaps this month, with antiseptics and cotton bandages. Toothbrushes next month.......
“The feast will be made in to an event, we have some wonderful volunteers, many of whom have grown up with us.
“I return in September, so can reassess then. The first feast is planned for this month, we took the first 25kg of sugar on my second visit.
“I so wish that I could have been there longer, but perhaps it is good to move slowly, it would be wrong to rush in to helping, and more assessment is needed, but these are the real sufferers.”
You can find out more about Canon Pat’s work with leprosy sufferers at www.vidiyaltrust.com