We Feel Abandoned, Leporsy Colony Inhabitants Ament

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By: Joseph Titus Yekeryan

In the quest for sufficient and effective support, Patients at the Suakoko Leprosy Rehabilitation Center are calling on the government of President George Manneh Weah to direct more attentions to the livelihood improvement of Lepers at the center.

They said, the government has abandoned them to their chance, leaving them in a single handed hope to depend on KWATEKEH Africa, a Nongovernmental organization that has over the past years been supporting their livelihood and sometimes Bong County electoral District #5 Representative Edward W. Karfiah.

Also, many of the Lepers are old folks, who either feet or hands are stubbed, while some have lost their fingers or toes.

“ I came here since 1973 and since then, I can remember from the beginning of my arrival things were much better but since the war broke out, my life has completely changed for the worse and I am left with no hope again,” Tennie King, age 98 told our Correspondent.

Tennie King

She continued, “We were the first set of people the government of William V.S Tubman brought here, they took me from Ma-Barclay in Montserrado County.”  

When questioned whether she knows the where abouts of her relatives, Old ma King said, she left her husband and two children to seek medication at the center in 1973 but she is yet to hear and unite with them since the war ended.

She told Journalist that only one hand was infected from the beginning but her both hands and legs are all being infected with the disease.

“Since I came here some friends have been helping me, I can proudly say that this is now my home because I don’t have anywhere to go as you can see I am very old so I am not thinking of going anywhere.  Those who are living in this town with me are all my families,” She concludes.

The Suakoko Rehab Center, according to our Bong County Correspondent, has little over six hundred inhabitants many of whom are not Lepers.

John Tormue, one of the Lepers wants the World to hear their cries of not getting help from the government.

Many of the children and grandchildren are not infected with leprosy but by virtue of the fact that they are from the colony, they are still shunned by society.

The Leprosy Rehabilitation Center in Suakoko was established during the administration of late President William V.S Tubman for those who were powerless to overcome the distress pressure of patriarchal society, were taken away from their husbands, wives and children when they were being fed and treated on regular basis through a Canadian Aid until the civil war in late 1989.

But now, the Lepers are complaining of government’s apparent inconsiderateness to their quandary, saying there were no visible signs of possible support to them.

The Administrator of the Center, Justin J. Togbah  has been in the position since 1990 and told KMTV that government needs not to depend on Humanitarian organizations for support to the center.

He said, the Liberian Government should rather be eager to bring whatever support patients need for their livelihood improvement.

Mr. Togbah said their conditions are becoming unbearable due to the lack of support from the Liberian government.

He commends Kwatekeh Africa and the office of Representative Edward Karfiah for the level of support over the past years but said government’s intervention is needed.

“We are grateful to Kwatekeh Africa for the level of support but we really calling on the government to direct its attention to us because we cannot only depend on Kwatekeh African.” he noted.

Mr. Togbah said, while it is true that the NGO’s support is highly appreciated, it will be much better for government to join hands with partners to provide more supports for the patients.

Our Bong County Correspondent who visited the area, said, despite the awful condition of Lepers, many of them are required to engage in trifling scale farming in order to earn a livelihood while they keep their hands stretched for more.

Leprosy is a chronic, curable infectious disease mainly causing skin lesions and nerve damage. It is caused by infection with the bacterium mycobacterium leprae and it mainly affects the skin, eyes nose and peripheral nerves.