Help People Affected by Leprosy Get Through the Coronavirus Crisis

(This fundraising campaign is now closed)

Donate HereCoronavirus, or COVID-19 is sweeping across the world. I need your help now to give people affected by leprosy the support they need to get through this crisis and beyond.

I have heard the word “unprecedented” used an awful lot recently. The spread of this new virus is causing unprecedented difficulties in getting help to people affected by leprosy too. And of course, these are some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.

And to make matters worse I have had to cancel or postpone important activities and events that would have raised funds to help them.

I pray that you, your family and friends are as safe as possible right now. And I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this.

I really need your help. I know that you share my desire to help people affected by leprosy and one day to eradicate it completely. Your gifts in the past have been a blessing, but now they need your help again.

Please would you join me by giving a gift today to help people affected by leprosy get through this crisis. And to ensure that all of the various projects to help them can stay open once the crisis has passed.

Can I tell you how urgent the situation is?

  • We have stopped all medical services that required a group of people to meet together, such as self-help groups and outreach clinics to spot the first signs of leprosy.
  • We have closed some outpatients departments to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • We are doing everything we can to ensure that MDT – the cure for leprosy – remains available. This includes issuing extra medication to patients in case clinics can’t run.
  • Through our networks of churches, volunteers and partners we are sharing vital information about coronavirus with leprosy-affected people. Without us they may not know how to protect themselves.

Our hospitals are preparing to treat people who are very ill with coronavirus. That is the urgent need right now. But we also know that so many of the problems associated with leprosy can be traced back to it not being spotted early enough. How many people will go undiagnosed, and develop a serious disability, because the virus stopped them from seeing someone who could help?

At the moment we are all living in temporary isolation, but with the technology available to us we can still keep in touch with many of the people close to us. My team are “meeting” several times a week online. Many churches are making their services available on YouTube, Facebook or Zoom. Some supermarket shelves are empty but there is still food available everyday and we have our wonderful NHS.

Many people affected by leprosy have known complete isolation for years. Isolation driven by fear and hatred. Now, with weakened immune systems and other underlying health conditions, many face the terrifying prospect of Coronavirus too.

And all of this is happening in countries where far too few people have access to the technology, the healthcare or even the food we take for granted. Where Personal Protection Equipment for medical staff is much harder to come by and where ventilators and Intensive Care facilities are extremely limited.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote to you about Phyo and his family in Myanmar. Because of his leprosy, his wife’s parents have completely shut them out. His little boy will never know his grandparents. Their isolation will last a lifetime.

Mawlamyine Hospital is a safe place for Phyo, somewhere he is welcomed and loved. Somewhere that he can get all the help he needs to defeat his leprosy. Without Mawlamyine Hospital “I would have died”, he said.

Please give today so that Phyo, and hundreds of other people like him will continue to get the help they need in the weeks and months ahead.

Today leprosy hospitals and projects at places like Mawlamyine and many other places around the world are being faced with impossible decisions.

How to keep staff and patients safe from the virus while still providing vital care, desperately needed by people affected by leprosy?

They urgently need your help to:

  1. Be ready to treat Coronavirus patients now, safely and effectively.
  2. Help prevent the spread of the virus though giving out vital information about self-isolation and symptoms to leprosy communities and other vulnerable groups.
  3. Prepare to act fast once the crisis is over to spot the first signs of leprosy and treat the disease before it causes permanent disability.

I work with some brilliant people. You may have met some of them when they have visited Scotland over the years. Their teams will find a way to work through this crisis, if we help them.

But even now I am scared that just at a time when The Leprosy Mission Scotland is needed more than ever, we won’t have the funding we need to help keep hospitals and community projects running. I am scared that when the dust settles I will have to ask my colleagues in Myanmar, or Nepal, or Nigeria, to close projects for good because I haven’t been able to raise enough money to keep them open.

Only with your help will I be able to say something different. That you and I will support them through this crisis. And that you and I will keep supporting them beyond it.

Please give what you can.

God bless you.

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3rd Apr 2020

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Opinions are the authors own and not necessarily those of The Leprosy Mission Scotland.