The sad but hopeful story of Akifa

10-year-old Akifa in hospital bed

I received this heartbreaking letter from one of my fellow lepers:
"During my trip to Nigeria, I was grateful for the relief when the nurse led me into the leprosy hospital building. We started our journey in the men's ward and then moved to the women's ward, where I was surprised to see a little girl sitting on one of the bed edges. I thought she might be with her sick mother, but I realised I was wrong. This little girl, just 10 years old, was a leprosy patient undergoing treatment! It is terribly moving to see a child with leprosy. Leprosy is ruthless and heartless. She doesn't mind: how old is her victim. It attacks the youngest, most defenceless child!"
My colleague continued his letter:
"Leprosy has robbed Akifa of the freedom of a happy childhood. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon! Whenever I meet a child with leprosy, I always feel a deep sense of pain and sadness. These precious children, wherever they live in the world, belong to me and to us! Akifa is like our own little girl! - After the first feeling of sadness, I became angry. Why is this pathogen still ruining the lives of children today? After all, their circumstances are so difficult anyway! Even without disease, they wallow in the depths of poverty! But this is what should spur us, who belong to the worldwide family of the Lepramism Mission, to cry out and help!" - concluded my colleague.

Even as you read this, somewhere on Earth, a young child is being diagnosed with leprosy. They don't even know what the word means! But they see the tears in their mother's eyes and they are afraid. They are waiting for us to help them!

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