Christadelphian Leprosy Fund Newsletter, October 2022
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Jayanthi Rehabilitation Centre
Jayanthi Rehabilitation Centre is a small group project for the housing, care and rehabilitation of people suffering from Hanson’s disease (Leprosy). A site of more than five acres of picturesque rocky land about fifty kilometres north of Hyderabad in south India was granted to us by the State Govt in September 1996, and building began shortly after that. As much of the land was rock strewn hills, an additional acre of adjoining flat land was later purchased to facilitate future development, especially for gardening purposes.
The Centre is located near the village of Dasarlapally. It is a lovely place with a backdrop of huge boulders on a ridge forming the southern boundary. These boulders sometimes house peacocks, and also monkeys which raid fruit trees and some garden plants.
Buildings consist of a guesthouse, supervisors residence, a doctors consulting room, a kitchen, a meeting room, 8 twin cottages and a store room. Electricity is connected and much more reliable than when we first occupied the site, but we still run invertor/battery systems for emergency power. Water is pumped from a borewell to supply water, and there is a septic system installed.
There are currently 17 residents at JRC.
Bible reading, prayers and singing, together with a monthly Worship Service supported by Hyderabad Christadelphians, take place in the Meeting Room for those who choose to attend. The supervisors are a young couple, Saju and Nimmi, who live on site.
A newly completed covered activities area
New drainage and electrical systems installed at JRC
It is now 25 years since the sewerage, drainage and underground electrical cabling were installed, and much of it has been in need of replacement for sometime. This work, delayed both by Covid restrictions and local flooding, is now just about complete. The photos below were taken 2 months ago while the work was in progress.
With over 20 toilets to be connected this was a major work, together with the replacement of the underground power cables to each unit. All necessary trenching was done by hand with crowbar, pick and shovel!
The housing units are now safer and both drainage and power systems being completely replaced or refurbished.
The effects of Covid and long term changes
Those most affected in India by Covid restrictions over a two year period were daily wage earners and street beggars, who were forced off the streets. This meant that 90% of our Leprosy patients lost their primary source of income. It also meant they could not attend our street clinics for their regular medicines and dressings. The only solution was to go to them, and becoming more familiar with their places of residence, their problems and their needs has opened up several new avenues of service, and doubling the beneficiaries of our Street and Colony Clinics to over 500 families.
Nalgonda – This colony, 100 kms south east of Hyderabad, is home to about 25 of our Shunem Home and Nithsdale School children, so Nithsdale teachers also joined our team when visiting during Covid lockdowns, and held classes and distributed subject wise folders to the children. As a result of contact with the authorities concerning drainage problems which were noted on a previous visit, it was pleasing to see repair work being undertaken by the Govt authority. Our visits gave us opportunity to provide a hot meal to 100 families (about 400 people) and distribute basic rations and oral hygiene supplies.
The excitement of the children on receiving a visit from the Shunem staff and their teachers from Nithsdale was a joy to see and testifies to the very positive associations and mental images the children have of Shunem Home and Nithsdale School.
Many visits to this area over the Covid period have provided them with hot meals, ration packs, health and hygiene supplies, books for the children, as well as providing an opportunity for assessment of their housing needs.
With assistance from the patients themselves providing the labour where possible, we have removed many of the leaking lime and sand flat roofs and replaced them with steel girders and rust free roofing sheets, similar to Colorbond.
Borabanda – On the outskirts of Hyderabad. Visits to this area followed the pattern of the Nalgonda one with rations and oral hygiene kits being distributed, and the 26 Shunem/Nithsdale children in this colony being given project folders for School work.
Similar visits were made to three other Leprosy colonies that have connection with Shunem.
During 2021, and early in 2022, we became aware of other Leprosy colonies on Hyderabad’s outskirts that were struggling for both medical and food supplies. While medicines for Leprosy treatment are relatively cheap, or free, medicines for other conditions are not. As a consequence many sufferers of diabetes, hypertension etc in these colonies have been unable to purchase prescribed medicines.
We have now employed on a full time basis, Mr Anantha Ram, who has been assisting Dr Sanjay Christian in the Street Clinic for many years in dispensing medicines and doing dressings.
Anantha Ram now makes weekly visits to four different areas where the Leprosy patients reside, providing dressing material, and medicines, dispensing medicines where Doctor’s prescriptions are provided, doing dressings, and training local residents in basic wound dressing techniques.
Due to loss of sensation in the peripheral nerves, leprosy sufferers are very susceptible to skin and deeper tissue damage, and the lack of peripheral nerves means natural stimuli for healing are absent, and healing is often complicated by diabetes.