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!