Lepers at the Suakoko Lepers Colony few yards from Phebe Hospital in Bong County are complaining of being neglected by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Government of Liberia.
In an interview with this paper on Wednesday February 12, the lepers said since the colony was constructed by the late President William V. S. Tubman in 1955 there has been no renovation on the existing structures.
The lepers told this reporter that most of the buildings are falling apart as the result of age. They stressed that they faced extreme difficulty during the raining season where they have to place buckets and dishes in the houses in order to stop the rain from soaking their straw beds.
On the question of how they feed themselves, the lepers whispered that they have survived through the sale of potato greens and cassava leaf in order for them and their grand children to survive.
“We used to eat two times daily with regular medical services during the reign of Presidents William V. S. Tubman, William R. Tolbert and Samuel K. Doe but everything has been cut off,” old lady Mamie Kpatawee emphasized
The lepers, taking into account, what our correspondent saw, are living in deplorable conditions as they lack basic social amenities such as water, electricity, education and quality health care.
Our correspondent said the only stream in the community is what the lepers use for drinking, bathing and cooking.
The lepers thanked Mr. Eric Hanson, an American missionary, for constructing them three pit latrines in the colony and the Episcopal Church in Liberia for providing them foods, clothing and cooking utensils.
They also extolled the Cuttington University Service Learning Program for constructing them additional two pit latrines with bathroom.
The lepers also thanked Mr. Amara Zubah of the Phebe Hospital for providing them free medical services.
“People from the families of those who have suffered with leprosy may have no impairment themselves, but their association with someone with the disease taints their life,” Mr. Zubah told this paper.
Effective treatment has done a considerable amount to diminish the threat of leprosy and thus to reduce stigma; in the past, leprosy was viewed as a severely stigmatizing condition that progressively devalued and marginalized the affected persons. The disease, and the stigma and social exclusion that so often attach to it, persist in many places, particularly in Liberia, Mr. Zubah accentuated.
“Indeed, leprosy has become a stereotype of a stigmatized condition; if someone talks of a person being like a leper; we know immediately that the person is being shunned and is being excluded in some way from society” the Medical practitioner concluded.
The lepers explained that their children and grandchildren made farms for them for sustainability.
It was observed by this paper that the lepers are using the cafeteria as school for the more than 150 school going siblings in the colony.
This paper was also informed that there are more than 200 lepers currently living in the lepers’ colony.
In a passionate appeal the lepers called on the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the international community and the government of Liberia to provide them with foods, clothing, hand pumps and medical services.
They said the colony lacks hand pump thereby limiting them to rely on stream for drinking and bathing.