Written by Theresa Chou, who is responsible for Casa Ricci’s leper rehabilitation programs.
Wangdu is located in the district of Baoding,
. It is a small city and not very developed. Without having any special natural resources, it is respected for its ability to preserve the traditional rustic flavor of old Chinese towns. The day we arrived there to pay a visit, was exactly the last day of the Chinese Spring Festival, and the streets were crowded with people running up and down to buy the traditional paper lanterns for their celebration. We took a taxi, and headed for the center of rehabilitation for leprosy affected people, where the 3 sisters who live there where already waiting for us. Province of Hebei
The first thing that came to my mind was to go see our friend, which I like to call “Jesus’ loved one”. He is a leprosy patient that was blessed by God with a beautiful singing voice. I am not sure when was it that he lost his eye sight and became completely blind, but the deep impression he caused in me the first time we met is still very alive in my memory. On that occasion he was asked to offer us a song. While he was singing his blind eyes where suddenly filled with tears that rolled down his face. Then he turned around and wiped his face with the coat’s sleeve. Was he moved by the beauty of the moment, or simply embarrassed to find himself – a Chinese Man – crying in public? I will never know for sure, but I could sense in him a deep touch of melancholy that quickly spread to all of us and made us feel an indescribable sadness. I am sure that none of them wanted to leave their homes and “be forced” to live isolated with a group of strangers.
One day, the sisters told me that he often says how much he misses his parents. He begged the sisters to accompany him to his home in the northeast but, not without great sadness, they had to tell him that it would be very difficult for them to take him there because for a blind man, even the most basic actions such as going to the toilet would be very hard, especially if he has to be on a train that takes several nights and days to get to the destination. When he sang for us, he chose a song that is precisely about how “there is nothing like mother’s love under heaven”. Can you imagine what he was feeling at that moment? Completely heartbroken. Even if he tried to smile at the end of the song, there was no way he could hide such a strong feeling. Many years ago he still had a sister that came to visit him, but afterwards his family ceased to contact with him. One of the problems is that, if people discover he has leper, they will start rejecting his whole family. How would his parents be able to live then? The simple thought of this was enough to make him doubt his idea of visiting his family.
When was the last time we made someone cry of happiness? When we touch someone in this way, especially those who are lonely and suffer the most, we give them the strength they need to continue hoping that their lives are still worth living.