Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Straight from my Journal: Leprosy Colony, Nigeria

I'm starting a new regular feature on my blog called "Straight from my Journal." I always keep a journal when I travel, so I thought it might be interesting to pair my travel photographs with my journal entry from that day so you can see a little bit of what was going on behind the scenes of the pictures.

March 21, 2007
Ogbomosho, Nigeria

For lunch today we had plaintains, fish, spinach with groundnuts cooked in it, and pounded yam. I liked the fish and spinach but think the pounded yam is probably considered the tofu of Africa- totally tasteless unless there is a sauce.

After lunch my family went to the leprosy colony called the Baptist Health Services Center. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I've never known anyone with leprosy or seen what it does. It seems like it slowly hardens fingers and toes and then they fall off or something. (Later I found out they don't really fall off. To read more about this look on Wikipedia.) Many of the people there are better now, but will not be accepted in their home villages because the villagers fear catching leprosy. While at the colony, we walked around and saw some of the buildings- a men's ward, a chapel, and individual houses where families lived. We prayed with several people, talked with them, touched them, and shook their hands. The people there were so happy to be touched because usually everyone else is scared to be near them. I wasn't scared because I learned that you can't get leprosy from touching someone. You have to live a long time in unsanitary conditions before that could happen. We gave out some lifesaver candy, candy bracelets, bouncy balls, and plastic jelly rings to our new friends there. The rings were a big hit with the women. I met a woman named Grace that gave me an African name. It is Ayooluwa (pronounced A-yo-o-lu-wa) which means the Lord's joy. This was probably my favorite day in Africa. The people were so happy to meet us and I really learned a lot that day about being grateful for what you have.

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