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November 2013
In This Issue
Jiji Rihuo
Heathcare Workers Training
Training Volunteers to Teach Health & Hygiene in Xide
Summer Volunteer Teachers
The Most Beautiful Holidays
Volunteer Visit the Villages
Our Donors

The summer brought an increase in the number of student volunteers and other groups visiting the villages we serve.  The students taught special classes, visited villager's homes in order to promote better hygiene and health.  It is encouraging to see that more people are gaining a better understanding of leprosy and that the stigma of leprosy is lessening.  We thank these volunteers for their time and contributions.

We are also happy to announce the receipt of a matching grant from Rotary International in the amount of US$49,000.  Their support is greatly appreciated by The Project.  I'd like to thank the Rotary Clubs of HK South, Quarry Bay and Shouson Hill for their support in applying for this grant and for their donations.
In the next few years, we shall be working to improve the hygiene and the sanitation in the leprosy villages and also towards improving the nutritional standard of the children and their families.
As our work continues and funds are still needed. If you haven't yet donated to The Leprosy Project, please consider doing so.   


Thank you.

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Tony Leung


Jiji Rihuo - From Butuo to Puge

Jiji Rihuo 

  Jiji Rihuo carefully wiped the stool clean before offering it to his guests. He expressed his gratitude to The Leprosy Project. At first he was reluctant to shake hands since for most of his life people avoided contact with him. When we patted his shoulder he relaxed and reached out to shake our hands. Following is his story:


I was born in Tuojue Township of Butuo County in 1945. I was the one of three children and had and enviable life with my parents, sister and brother. My father was the accountant for our village in Butuo. I even had the chance to go to school. I loved studying. I went to school happily every day. I hoped to go to secondary school, but in the winter of 1955 when I was 10, I began to lose feeling in my left foot and my skin became numb. I remember this clearly. When I told my father, he did not say anything, but I could see tears running down his face.


Afterwards I regretted telling my father what was happening to me. I should have hidden everything. People from the Township Government and Sanitary Station brought medical equipment to my home every day. Each time they came to our home my mother cried. As time went by, our friends, relatives, and neighbors began avoiding me. I was isolated and it was very difficult for my parents and sister. My younger brother was too young to understand what was happening, but the rest of the family felt the shame of my illness.


A year after I was diagnosed with the disease, my father, unable to bear the disgrace, collapsed and died. I had brought misfortune and humiliation to our family and I entertained thoughts of suicide. My mother's kindness saved me. She tried to re-enroll me in school but no school would take me due to my illness. Though we were shunned, my mother never deserted me. My sister tried to visit, but her husband's family did not allow her to. She was locked up by her husband. She had to live a life without light because of me.


Jiji Ruhuo speaks with Project staff about his life


We lived in isolation for several years. It was time for my brother to get married but no one wanted to marry him. I knew that if I stayed in the village he would never be able to get married. I had to leave for the sake of my brother. Through the County Government I found out that there was a hospital for leprosy in Puge. My mother and I walked for 4 days to get to the leprosy hospital in Xiangyang Township of Puge County. I was 17. We found a shabby cottage in the village of Senkeluo to live in. We were also assigned work in the field. Fortunately, in this village nobody discriminated against us. We were actually valued by the other villagers. Since I had two years of education, I was assigned a clerical job in the village. I did not have to do manual labor and could even help my mother and lessen her work load.


Honestly, it was not a bad thing that we moved to Puge. I found happiness and a family here. I eventually became a village official. Many people worried about me not being married and tried to set me up. My mother was anxious to see me get married while she was still alive. With the help of other villagers, I met and married the most beautiful girl in this village, Jihuo Moerluo.  I was 28.  


That is when my good life began. People saw that I was an honest and responsible person, and they let me become the accountant of the village. I did this for more than 30 years. I retired in 2009 when I was 64.


Though my life has been simple, I feel content and happy. My children are all married and have their own families; they no longer have to live with the risk of contracting leprosy. Life has become better and better. I would like to wish everyone in the village a better life and hope that every child will have the chance to receive a better education.


Jiji Rihuo on his farm
Prevention of Disability

2013 Annual Healthcare Workers Training  


The Project held a five-day training for village healthcare workers in September. Eight healthcare workers and all of the project staff attended the training.  Staff and healthcare workers spent 3 days in Luding for on-site training and 2 days in Xide for training in childhood malnutrition, and health and hygiene education. Luding healthcare workers were divided into small groups so that Project staff could give individual instruction. Healthcare workers performed sterile operations, treated ulcers, infections and callosity.  Project staff observed the healthcare workers in order to review their skills, give feedback and additional training as needed.


Top left: Healthcare workers receive formal training, bottom left and right: 'on the job' training


During the training on health and hygiene education, and childhood malnutrition, staff encouraged healthcare workers to discover the problems and issues on their own. They then worked with the Project staff to find solutions. This participatory approach keeps healthcare workers engaged and motivated. The trainees were also given the chance to observe flies, and parasites under a microscope to better understand why hygiene is important for everyone, and how germs can harm people. They also have a better understanding of the problems caused by malnutrition and how a balanced nutritious diet will strengthen their bodies.


Healthcare workers and Project staff in Luding
Nutrition & Hygiene   

Training Volunteers to Teach Health and Hygiene Education in Xide

In July nine volunteers from Xichang College received training from Project staff Kelly Xu, Fang Jingru, Rihai Riga and Make Hamo.


Kelly Xu and Fang Jingru explained the conditions in the villages and discussed their own experiences in communicating with villagers. Staff established targets for health and hygiene education and expected results. Volunteers enthusiastically engaged in the training and gave many useful comments.


Through the training, staff was able to create templates for future training in other villages. The format for data collection was also enhanced in order to refine the assessments of hygiene performance.


Village students learn about health and hygiene in Xide 


After the training, the staff and nine volunteers traveled to Qianjin, a remote mountain village in Xide County with a population of 500. Due to the remote location, many of the elderly residents have never left the village and the children have received little education. Most of the villagers have no concept of personal or household hygiene. The poor standard of sanitation in the community leads to the easy transmission of many infectious diseases.


Top left: Student volunteer visit homes, Top right: Village children look through the microscope, Bottom left: sweeping the courtyards, Bottom right: A clean home


The Project staff and volunteers started by giving basic training to 42 students from the village. The three groups then visited each home in the village to talk about hygiene and the effect it has on health.


Every household received training in home hygiene, including cleaning furniture and floor, sweeping the areas around their home, and washing their clothes and bedding. Both students and their parents were keen to participate. Villagers understand that they must persist in keeping their home and the village clean to help prevent the spread of disease and to beautify the village.


Top: Village students are given washing powder and cleaning supplies, Bottom: Washing clothes in the river

Public Awareness

2013 Summer Volunteer Teaching in Jinyang and Ganluo

Volunteer teachers introduce themselves

The Leprosy Project arranged a summer volunteer teaching program in cooperation with Siyu Organization for Social Responsibility, the biggest non-governmental volunteer project for education and community development in the Greater Liangshan area. Nine volunteers from the Siyu Organization spent their summer holidays in Xihe Village in Jinyang and Kuihua Village in Ganluo. The volunteers taught courses such as Chinese Language, English, Music, Art, Environmental Protection, Civil Education.  They also designed courses specifically to suit the needs of each village.


The Leprosy Project is grateful to have the volunteers working in the villages. The village children benefited and it gave the volunteers an opportunity to learn firsthand about leprosy and the people in the villages.  We hope this will be one more way to help end the stigma faced by the people in the villages we serve.


Top: Students show appreciation with flowers, bottom: Student volunteers

The Most Beautiful Holidays - Xihe Primary School


July 11, 2013 was the first time that I traveled without my family. This is when I began my trip as volunteer teacher in Xihe Village of Jinyang County in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. I felt exceptionally good because there was hope when I stepped on to the train bound for Xichang City.  I have gained a lot; most importantly I met new friends and students during my time there.


Zhao Jie - The most supportive person and the one to whom I need to express my gratitude.


Like most of the others, at the very beginning I was feeling a bit hesitant to teach in Xihe Village, Jinyang since it is well-known for difficult mountain paths and it is a leprosy rehab village. I finally accepted the challenge and when I told Zhao Jie he immediately joined the program with me. I personally have lots of shortcomings; picking on others is definitely one of them. I kept picking on him on the way to the village, but he never showed any dissatisfaction with me. Zhao Jie got along very well with everyone in the village; he taught and played ball games with children. Everyone liked him very much.


We had plans for doing household visits, and that was the most tiring duty for me. We had to walk more than half an hour on a rocky mountain path just to visit one family. Zhao Jie never complained and finished all the household visits. During the visits we met a boy whose mother had recently passed away. No one was taking good care of him. He was wearing ragged clothes and shoes.  Zhao Jie walked hours to the nearest town to buy the boy new clothes and shoes. Zhao not only knew how to take care of others but he was also a good cook. He made me feel that I no longer needed to worry about anything.


Left: Lanza Biga Right: Zhao Jie playing ball games with village children in Jingyang

Lanze Biga - The most moving student


Lanze Biga was the first student that we met on the way to Xihe Village. We met him as we passed through another village on the way to Xihe.  To subsidize his family's income, Lanze Biga walks three hours to buy snacks to resell in his village.  He is 13 years old, but only a grade 3 student.  


Lanze is a courageous and talkative boy, who called me "little chub" a nickname I was not happy with. When I found out that most of the village children had only two meals a day and potatoes were their staple food I realized the reason all the villagers were so thin; and of course I am a "chub" compared to them. The heartbreaking thing was that most of the children in the village are suffering from malnutrition. The children were polite and willing to share. One day we went fishing. One of the children dropped his shoes in the river; and of course a pair of shoes means a lot to the child. Lanze took off his shoes right away and offered them to the child.


These village children are smaller than children of same age group in towns and cities; though their appearance is smaller, their hearts and minds are much bigger. They know the joy of sharing. They often picked flowers and grilled corn for us when we were in the village. The day finally came when we had to leave the village. Lanze cried for a long time. We still keep in contact by phone, and Lanze is now the team leader in the class, and he has been practicing writing. He hopes that we can visit the village again soon.


I am not writing this to tell people that we have been doing something special, but because I want to let everyone know that there are still people and children in need of help and concern, and to let people know that leprosy is not scary. It is curable and totally under control nowadays. I would like to thank the Leprosy Project for letting me have such an opportunity that I could teach and live in the village. Thank everyone from The Leprosy Project, you are indeed the most beautiful people in the world.

Visits to the Elderly Residents of Yanbian and Butuo


Most of the people affected by leprosy who are  living in the Yanbian Rehab home and the five-guaranteed households in Butuo are elderly. They have no family and are unable to leave the village due to physical disabilities.The Project was fortunate to be able to liaise with other organizations to arrange visits from volunteer groups.


In July one group spent 6 days visiting Yanbian and Butuo. Visitors played chess and other games with the residents. They also talked with the residents, helped them clean their homes and wrapped dumplings for them. The residents were delighted by the visits. Project staff also showed movies at the village as the residents do not have access to a cinema.


Movie night in Butuo and Yanbian


When it was the time for the volunteers to leave, the residents were sad to see them go. Volunteers were enthusiastic about the program and said they would love to come again. In bringing joy to the residents the volunteers also experienced the same.


In August the Eastern Miaoxi Charitable Foundation together with Prefectural and County Government officials visited Xide. They went from home to home learning more about the life of people affected by leprosy. They also brought donations.


At the end of the visit, the village dancing group performed traditional Yi dances for all the visitors and the volunteers performed a Sichuan Opera, acrobatics and a magic show for all villagers. It was a memorable day for everyone.




Other visitors to Butuo were Buddhist Master Binglu, and Mr. Han Zhexu. They also visited households to gain a better understanding of life in the village. Master Binglu explained Buddhist philosophy to villagers and encouraged them to be optimistic despite their poverty and disease.  


Master Binglu and his companions also brought donations of electric cooking pans and kitchen-ware for the five-guaranteed households. Mr. Han has also brought donations of new clothes for all the villagers.

Our Donors
We would like to thank our donors without whom we could not continue our work.  Your generous support is appreciated.  Please click here for a list donors for the 3rd Quarter 2013.