Monday, September 7, 2009

Reflections on what to call the descendants of lepers?

Monday 7th September

Yesterday I was reflecting about a visit we did a week ago to do final assessments for educational support of children in an isolated leper colony. We agreed to support 13 excellent students there and yet we have no definite sponsors for them.

Why did we take them on? They are discriminated against and have tried many ways to get the support they need for their children's education and had not succeeded.

How can I talk about them without scaring or revolting people? I am asked if the children are contagious and whether it is responsible to school them with non-lepers.

What do I say? Where do I start? How do I refer to these beautiful children who are children or grandchildren of lepers? Leper grandchildren? Lepers' children? When asked whre do they live, the answer is in Leper Village. I am finding some people in this day and age are still discriminating, scared and concerned about the unknown aspects of lepers and leprosy. This is exactly what happens to the children in their own country; they are discriminated against and are considered untouchables by many.

I at least can name the program with a non-discriminating title; "The Da Nang Children's Education Support Program". That's true too; 12 of them that we have agreed to support are now living in Da Nang on the school days, with just one living far away in another area.

We sent a message to the community some weeks ago before school started to let them know there definitely would be support if all the children were well cared for, safe and not vulnerable in their school time accommodation on the mainland and that we would come to find out about it.

We were impressed with the care and determination the parents had to support their children have an education. Some mothers travel backwards and forwards daily to accomplish this. One mother arrives at the end of the school day, cooks for her daughter, they sleep together, then breakfast together before her daughter goes to school, then mum goes back to the rest of the family and cooks and looks after them, then works. The accommodation chosen for the children sounded good, but we felt a need to visit it all to make sure it was as appropriate as it sounded.

I believe 13 educated children will make a difference to their family and their community and I hope also to the Da Nang community, those they know at school and those they live with and interact with in the city.

I would also like to set up an enjoyable summer school program for them that will help them have greater confidence and self esteem, as well as fun.

Still needed:
a. Financial support for the program whether for an individual sponsorship or for the program itself.

Costs are high to run this program as to get to these families for visits we have to take transport by both land and sea. We don't just need to visit one site but two for each child, as we need to check on their Da Nang accommodation to make sure they are safe and are getting the support and help they need, and we require, on a daily basis.

b. Funds to develop an enjoyable summer school program aimed at developing confidence and self esteem.

c. Internet suggestions and support from those with experience in the above field (b.)

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