Learning about Leprosy in India

on Friday, 21 March 2014. Posted in Recent Programs

Program Recap - March 19, 2014

Learning about Leprosy in India

During their regular breakfast meeting on March 19 the members of the Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley were provided an informative presentation  from Susan Witty of Sylva about volunteering  in a leprosy community located in Calcutta, India.   The mission-based organization was originally founded by Mother Teresa in 1953 and gradually developed into the Gandgi Prem Niva Leprosy Center with more than 650 residents, patients and elders associated with its programs and services today.  Susan has been volunteering for this Missions of Charity project for the past five years. 

She began the discussion by stating a few facts to clarify common misconceptions about this disease.  Leprosy is a curable communicable disease with 90% of the population being immune.  It is a disease of the poverty-stricken population that typically has weakened immune systems. Within one month of treatment the disease is not contagious and after three months it is usually cured.  However,  Leprosy often results in permanently damaged nerves that cause deformities in the hands and feet. 

Susan enthusiastically shared her admiration of the determination and resiliency of  leprosy- afflicted residents who happily live and work together.   “With no toes and clawed fingers, they are eager to work, weaving cloth, gardening and preparing meals.   Leprosy doesn’t take a life, and these people have learned to be completely self sufficient,” she said.  

The Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley meetings are held  Wednesday mornings at 7:30 a.m. at the Cashiers United Methodist Church, 894 107 S.  Non-Rotarians are welcome to attend as a guest by contacting a Rotary member,  calling 828-743-5490 or go to  www.cashiersrotary.org for more information.