Madagascar: what future for people affected by leprosy? [1/3]

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Published on : 30/01/2023 – 00:20

The Raoul Follereau Foundation, present in Madagascar since 1987 to detect and treat the sick, supports around thirty leprosariums across the country. Among them, the dispensary of Ampasy, in the south-east of the island, created in 1936 by the Daughters of Charity. A veritable little village which has a school, a health centre, a leprosarium and houses for the sick undergoing treatment and their families. A place where the future of the sick, their reintegration into society, is just as important as their recovery.

From our special correspondent at Ampasy,

Mathematics lessons in this 3rd year primary class, at Saint-Joseph school. ” Ask then carry out the operations. Let’s all read together “orders the professor. The students run. At the back of the room, Juliano, 11, is a little miracle. When his grandfather dropped him here three years ago, he was dying. ” My body was covered with nodules and the sisters treated me. I had a relapse and then I finally recovered and I was authorized to integrate the school of the sisters. Now I live here. Later, I would like to be a doctor to treat people “explains the young boy.

If today the establishment, run by the Daughters of Charity, welcomes children from the surrounding villages, originally it was built for the children of the sick (whose treatment – ​​from 6 months to sometimes 2 years – forced them to stay at the centre), but also for the little patients themselves.

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« They have the right to study like the others, even if they are sick, even if they have leprosy. They have already taken the drugs, they are no longer contagious », emphasizes Sister Mathilde, the director. And the brilliant career of some of them makes the teacher extremely proud. ” Today, some of our former students are at university. It is a source of pride to allow them to have a future like everyone else. »

Turning towards the future of patients

This is the case of Maurice whom we meet at the dispensary. He welcomes a young mother who has come with her baby who has a fever and a cough. ” Has he had his vaccines ? “Questions the young man of 26 years. ” No, we do not have a vaccination center near us “replies the mother. Under the eye of the doctor, Maurice continues the consultation. The nursing student spends all his free time here. Because the center is his house. Maurice is a former leper. Abandoned with the sisters, he did all his schooling with them. ” They treated me for 1 year. At 13, I was finally able to join CP. At the end of high school, the sisters asked me if I wanted to continue my studies. I said “sure ! I want to study ! “. Maurice is now in his second year of nursing school. The sisters convinced the Raoul Follereau Foundation to finance the young man’s expensive studies.

« If we look at this patient, my sister, she still has 4 months of treatment commented Doctor Bertrand Cauchoix. At the leprosarium, a hundred meters further on, the very devoted Sister Johany and the doctor examine a teenage girl suffering from leprosy and her baby. Sister Johany is in charge of the center; him, the national representative of the foundation in Madagascar, a great specialist in leprosy. For each patient at the end of treatment, the question of their future is systematically addressed during the consultation. ” We gotta talk to her, what she wanna do for a living says Sister Johany.

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Success through the prism of social reintegration

Doctor Bertrand Cauchoix checks to see if she is already benefiting from a grant or assistance from the centre, and asks the young mother what she wants to do as a job to earn a living. The patient wants to have a small business for “ sell small things “. Dr. Cauchoix wants to make sure she knows how to count, run a cash register, tell the difference between profit and turnover, and asks how high up she studied. She says she stopped at CP, but she knows how to count money. “ You have to study. If we think that with a small restaurant in her village, she can survive, with her child… On the contrary, it’s better for this young girl to return to her village… “, believes Bertrand Cauchoix.

Then he adds: Here at the Foundation, we have a small fund for social reintegration. So, ok, we’ll try to put together a case to help him. Therapeutically, we treated her. But for us, the success is not to treat her, it is that she can go home and can have a normal life. »

In 2022, the Raoul Follereau Foundation funded around thirty school and university scholarships and enabled around forty patients to start their small business.

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