Children can play a role in leprosy prevention
Making children aware of leprosy is crucial to fight and even prevent leprosy-related stigma. As part of an awareness-raising event, involving primary care doctors, nurses and several health authorities, LEPRA Health in Action promoted and organised a series of activities highlighting the importance of leprosy in Natal. Located in northeastern Brazil, Natal is one of the poorest and most leprosy-endemic regions in the country.
Children from poor schools in the area were encouraged to participate in a leprosy arts and literature competition, with awards presented by LEPRA. Jean Pierre, 13, wrote a comic book which tells the story of Hans, a boy who discovers he has leprosy but after treatment was cured and happy again. Jean came third in the competition and won a bicycle.
The second prize of a television went to Diego Rodrigues do Nascimento, an 11-year-old boy. He wrote a poem about the symptoms of the disease and the certainty of a cure. programmeNEWS The first prize of a computer and printer was won by Elias Medeiros de Melo, a 14-year-old. He made a powerful drawing that caught the attention of health officials. As a result, his drawing will be used by the municipality health authorities as a logo in anti-leprosy campaigns. All three children also won a scholarship that will ensure their access to university.
The school principal, Maria de Fátima, said: ‘LEPRA is changing these children’s destinies, besides promoting the understanding of leprosy, and helping to eliminate the stigma caused by the disease.’
Another group of students were taken on a field trip to visit an old leprosy colony to interview former patients that still live nearby. Using these interviews, they presented and performed a touching play about the lives of those who suffered compulsory isolation. According to Sandra, a 13-year-old student, it was “…very good to know those people who suffered so much and to be able to help to fight the illness.”
During the art contest activities, a 13-year-old girl studying in one of the schools was herself diagnosed with leprosy and is now undergoing treatment thanks to LEPRA.
Posted by admin 16:04 15.10.2009
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“For Bandichhod more needed to be done than simply provide a medical cure. Medical treatment is a beginning, not an end.”