After a visit to Mainland China, Father Fernando Azpiroz, SJ has to spend two weeks in quarantine.

After visit to Mainland China, el director de Casa Ricci Social Service organizes aid measures to the specially affected provinces and expects support. 

Dear friends of Casa Ricci,

First of all, thank you for your prayers and concern.

On February 4th I returned from Hunan - the southern neighbour province of Hubei on the other side of the Yangtze River where I guided and 8-day workshop for 14 sisters and some HIV patients who are serving or have served persons living with HIV/AIDS. After returning to Macau, I underwent the 15 days self-quarantine (home based) asked by the Macau SAR government. During my time in Hunan, most of the time, all of us including the sisters (14), the patients (5), the children (3) and myself stayed at the Loving Care center in Hongjiang, without going to the town, which to my big surprise, had no corona virus cases, so turned our to be one of the safest places in China. It was for this reason that I could leave the town and come back to Macau. During those days, we could feel the strength and energy of your prayers and concern. 

I imagine you are aware of the general situation in Hubei and other provinces, specially in the big cities. It is quite amazing how just a virus could stop the country that just few weeks ago saw itself as the engine of the World. Many things to reflect about why and how this has happened. But regardless of this, I can see a lot of courage from the people and an enormous effort from the government to fight against the epidemic. 

Donation of 2000 protectives gloves, 5000 protective masks, desinfectant liquid and other equipment to the Hongjiang CDC

In Casa Ricci we have done the following things: 

1)- Give financial support to buy protective masks and materials to those hospitals or places that have asked us for help. So far we have given support to the Guan Ai infectious disease hospital in Kunming in Yunnan province (where we are also serving patients living with HIV/AIDS) and to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Hongjiang township, Hunan province.

2)- Continue all our service to persons affected by leprosy in all the eleven leprosy centres in China and to persons living with HIV AIDS at the Loving Care HIV center in Hongjiang, making sure that all the Sisters (around fifty Sisters) who are serving there are taking good care of themselves. As for our two children homes, the children went back home for the Chinese New Year break, so we are following up their situation. We have four children from Hubei, one of them is currently with us in Kunming. Please pray for him. Our service at the Kunming Guan Ai hospital has been temporarily interrupted, as the sisters who are serving there could not return to Kunming from their Chinese New Year break. Until now, transportation between cities and provinces is still quite restricted. 

3)- On February 18th, we restarted our work in our Macau and Kunming offices, but not yet in Zhaojue (Sichuan provinces). Until then, we are working at home, following government regulations to control the corona virus epidemic. God willing, we will return to our offices starting from next Monday.

Please, remember to pray for us and for China during these difficult moments. We need it.

In Christ,
Fr. Fernando
18 February 2020
Macau SAR,


Happy Birthday!! for the elders👵

Thank you 😘Sister Hao for organizing birthday party🎂for the elders👵👴
💫A different birthday💫 

People's life is bumpy, some live gold and silver, full of children, grandchildren; some people are alone with no caring from family for a lifetime, but in any case, have gone through decades, whether happiness or loneliness, God gives everyone a preparation, and there are rewards too.

An elders' festival - the Double Ninth or Chung Yeung Festival, in many places, there are different celebrations for the elderly. Our rehabilitation center is no exception. We plan to prepare birthday celebration for the elderly in advance. The elders are mostly seventy or eighty years old. The rehabilitation center has never celebrated their birthdays. One day before the festival, I told them that tomorrow is the Double Ninth Festival, a holiday for your elders. To celebrate your birthday, you must be happy. At that time, an old man shed tears and took my hand and said: I never thought about my birthday celebration, I was so touched!

Life of Rehabilitated people are usually simple and monotonous, but their hearts are filled with sunshine, full of good yearning for life, and work hard to live. Our celebrations are simple, there are no flowers, and there are not many procedures, but our Sisters and rehabilitated people are all happy, singing, dancing, wishing, sharing, so happy! Such a simple activity can make the elderly so excited, our services are worth doing, the elderly can be happy, our love is persisting, we will always remember these old people. The birthday party is over, we continue to serve, companionship, let love, happiness, and joyfulness are always there.


The effect of cooperation

Cooperation is strength, after cooperation, it is easy to accomplish things that one can hardly do.

I went to check the room this morning. There was an old man in the rehabilitation facility. His leg on which the prosthesis was installed swelled up. He couldn't wear the prosthesis, we helped him with the medicine, and let him rest and asked him not to cut the woods that he used to do, but he insisted to make it by lying on the floor. He didn't want to use a walking stick or a wheelchair, he crumpled his knees as he crawled, he is a man who does not care of his personal hygiene, room hygiene, and cleansing his ulcers is his most unpleasant thing, and this is where we can hardly handle. Due to difficulties in communicating with our language barriers, he lived with seven dogs and a dozen cats and ate together. We could not do his work.

In this case, we asked two ex-mentors and a member of the community to work with us to help the old man. After a day of cleaning, washing, changing, and tidying the room, I told the hospital that the old man needed special care, he needed some assistance. We would take care of his ulcers and hoped that the hospital would give us support. The dean was very supportive and sent an ex-mentor to cook for him and a lady to help him in managing his wheelchair every day to push into the treatment room and cleaned his ulcer, and there was another lady who cleaned the room. When we cleaned his ulcer, the first thing we had to do was to give him food to make him happy or he wouldn't let us touch him. After the hard work of half yea, his ulcer begun to heal day by day, and he also smiled day by day. There are only two parts of the leg that have not been cured yet, but they are very small parts, the other leg was healed completely.

The family needs to be built up by us together, everyone needs to be loved. Let us continue to work together to improve the affection and caring of our grand family, let everyone knows that while the ulcers of the body have been heal, psychological trauma is also cured.

Thanks Aunt Betty for sharing our moving story.


Casual thought

When I first entered this unusual rehabilitation center and saw these old patients, their hands and feet almost disabled, walking like the wrapped-feet women of the Tang dynasty, slowly and swayingly. Some of the faces have been lethal corroded with face deformation. They are taciturn, only with long sigh when first met them, like they are not ordinary people of the community, how can I live with them in the days ahead? Looks scary to people but in the days after, what I see in these patients are a dedicated heart struggling for life. Although their hands and feet are not good, they use these numb hands and feet to work continuously without any stop. Their tenacious perseverance and tenacity for hard work are our admiration and comfort.

Like patient Wan Xiao Yan who was infected at age of 23, and suffered with shrinking and deformation of left hand and face. He cannot stand the alienation of his family and neighbors and hence came to this center when it was first opened. He is very intelligent and very smart, in his past time he likes flowers, and will repair trees and haircut the flowers with a broken scissors with his disabled hands. Slowly he got familiar with the barber, and started to practice barbering his brothers in the courtyard after buying a haircut scissors and utensils. Nowadays with his haircut skill he became our professional hairdresser of our rehabilitation center. He also served as the gardener of the center. He is very modest, and whenever someone says he is good, he always responds, "I'm still learning".

There are several elders who cut some reeds and weeds in the lake, to weave basket, mats and other things to earn some money. Some will plant some kind of cotton broom seeds in spring, and when ripe in October, use their disrespectful hands to make a broom so as to sell for a few change. They are not lack of money, but just do not let themselves idle.

About 20 days ago there is a patient named Xiao Jun who is a humpback with a strange temper and walk inconveniently. We have to deliver every meal to him and get water to clean the dish. Nevertheless he still complains about the sisters and sometimes even give us tantrums trouble. Suddenly he felt intense stomach pain and wanted to eat the noodles. "Because rice is faithful served in every meal.” So we give him noodles to eat instead.

We often talk heart-to-heart with them, only to know that each of them have a lot of bitterness due to the bacteria of leprosy. Some of them just finished high school, ready to take test for university and found infected with leprosy because of physical discomfort. Once you heard of this disease, all your qualifications, identity, money, and status seems to be totally lost in an instant; all the dreams are gone with the cloud and mist, then comes the idea of committing suicide in the river. One day a patient gave me a talk about his experience with burst of tears, and finally he said: “This leprosy disease is ruining my life. I was the school's top students, if not this disease, I may also be a professor of an university.

For the patients, their greatest pain and frustration is the alienation from their family and loved ones as well as discrimination from the others. What is even not acceptable is the long-term spiritual pressure. Seeing them through a pair of helpless eyes, one can know that each has a lot of bitterness, homelessness, broken family and death. Each has gone through such painful experience. They did not want to live along life, just live a day at a time! They do not know whether there is a second half of life a different experience in each conversation. Now with the service and help from our sisters, they feel very happy to live.

There is an old man that told me the conditions now are better than before and even they are getting older, they live like 20 years younger! We heard with a kind of comfort. They did not want to live before, and now says their leisure lifes too fast. Oh! thanks to God! - Thanks to the government for their care! - Also thanks to all the friends that console and care!


Life of elder

There was an old man with sudden osteoporosis. The pain was very powerful hence the head of the village head quickly hit 120 to call the ambulance. I accompanied her to Dechang County hospital. After a through inspection, then there was a drip injection until the end of nine o’clock. The pain lasts for three days without any sign of reduction, therefore on the night of the third day, I went to see the doctor-in-charge to re-consider the case, the new drug has a curative effect and the pain of the elder is reduced. Finally she can slowly sleep. In the morning after, I bought some food for breakfast. After eating the elder chatted with me about her life: At the age of seven, she studied for half a year before her mother died and the schooling interrupted. At eleven, her sister also died. At twenty-three years old she suffered from leprosy. When her father also infected with leprosy, both of them came to rehabilitation center for people affected by leprosy. Unfortunately, she was later suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, and became almost like a useless person, with pain all over except the eyebrows and the hair. Her father died in 1998. We live without living, and die without dying…such life is so miserable!

I listened with a heavy heart and do not know how to comfort her. But still said to her: there will be result if you have confidence in God and rely on the help of God for a good treatment. And she said, "There used to be a lot of people farming in the land outside. Since coming of the lepers, they have all gone away until the sisters are willing to live in and the former people come back to continue farming. Her greatest joy now is to call the rehabilitation center her home, to became the children of God, no more emptiness with the belief in God, and feel with the dependance that there is hope. With the help and care of the priest, sisters and benefactors, today life is a reality."

The elder is so simple and observant that she can feel the love of God through our slightest care and also from the priest and benefactors. How pleased it is ah!


Learning for Better Services

Learning is a very interesting thing, and can be a topic with meaning of a mission. No matter what kind of services one can constantly learn and practice, while improving the quality and attitude of the service, and most importantly to self-purification along the way. As in November 8, six nuns from different rehabilitation centers under our organization, who were sent to Yá Xī to learn from Fr. Tonetto how to take better care of ulcers. First of... all is to understand the ulcer is the body becoming numb due to lost of feeling, hence the patient do not have conscious to protect one's body. Also limb deforms because of drug effect that hurt the nerves. Leprosy is an infectious disease that spread through saliva, blood, and air. The only “drug" to prevent the infection is to attach importance to nutrition that enhance the body's immunity.

Ulcers Care: first of all to take into account measures that prevent trauma is to observe for the appropriate shoes. Most ulcers are caused by pressure, friction and scalding on the feet and buttocks. We also specially learned from the priest and the workers how to do insoles, so that when we return to our own rehabilitation center for the elderly we can make appropriate insoles that fits the shape of their feet. These will help ulcers heal.

In particular, we also studied the use of aseptic cloth. When I returned to the rehabilitation center I started practicing everything I have learned. So every day I started to do wound disinfection, cleaning, applying drug and bandaging with aseptic cloth for the elderly people. Sure enough I can see the wound becoming smaller day by day, and the edlerly becoming with a cheerful mood to see their own wounds become smaller and smaller. From their smiles I feel the trauma of their hearts have been cured. Also our team works together with patience and perseverance. The most important thing is confidence. When we try hard to work with God, the more you pay, the more you feel joy and tranquility.


Breaking One's Limitations

Sharing of small story by sisters working at the Ricci Social Service center for people affected by leprosy.

On Christmas and New Year's Day, the nuns planned one month ahead of schedule to rehearse programs for the rehabilitated ones, because every year the Hanzhong Central Centre provides a variety of programs, and the rehabilitated are rarely involved. This year the sisters advocated the personal participation of the rehabilitated people in the celebration of cultural activities. Sisters took the Yangko, Square Dance, Allegro, comic and comedy information, and went out to find suitable candidates. However, their excitement was greeted with cool response as they either escaped or looked for a variety of reasons to reject the invitation. The sisters came back with disappointment.

We also understand that since they have been diagnosed with leprosy, they have been abandoned by their families and discriminated against by society. This has become a lingering shadow of their lingering mind. In order to allow them to build self-confidence and eliminate their fears, the sisters mustered courage to go out and find the potential actors again. When the sisters went into the sick patient area, there was a group of young people. The sisters went to each door to invite, giving them mental support and arranged the   rehearsal program to be hosted in their hospital. In fact, their lonely heart is eager to sympathy, friendship and affection. The sisters went to accompany, support, appreciate and encourage them every afternoon from 3 to 6 o'clock for the middle-aged yangko dance rehearsal, and 7 to 9 pm for the young people rehearsing square dance. The rehabilitated people were all in high spirits, and the program was smoothly carried out.

Applauses and cheers added to their self-confidence, so that they broke through the deep self-limitations set in their hearts, lifted the chains tying them, and regained the inner freedom and joy!