The story of Josianne

"I was born on this mountain in 1970," begins Josianne from the Congo. "There was no question of me studying, I helped with the housework.

When I was 17, I started to get spots on my skin. We had no idea what they were. These spots were insensitive and later spread. Ulcers also appeared. I went from hospital to hospital, but they couldn't help me. I only got proper treatment 6 years ago. In the meantime, I unfortunately lost some fingers on my hands and feet."

Josianne later married and had 11 children, of whom only one survived, the others - most of them died after birth. Her husband chased her away, leaving her with her mother, who was herself a leper.

"When I showed signs of leprosy, our neighbours immediately disappeared. No one said hello, and from then on they were out. After I got treatment, my neighbours came out! Today they ask me to look after their children while they work in the fields! This little one belongs to a neighbour!" - points to the sleeping baby.

"My neighbours have learned that leprosy is not a scary disease, otherwise they wouldn't trust me with their babies!"

Josianne's joy and pride is her son, who lives in the capital and visits her home occasionally.

How can two people live in a 4 square metre hut? Just a few blankets, some pots and pans are all they own!

Even with her smile, Josianne's broken look tells you how much suffering she has endured, despite her relatively young age!

Josianne with Allan Ekstedt, Director of the Leprosy Mission in Sweden

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