In a small corner of Patna Archdiocese, beyond the suburbs of Phulwari Sharif, some 20 kilometres away from the city, is a small locality called Dhibra, where five brothers of the Missionaries of Charity run a hospice for lepers and the mentally retarded men.
Started in 1986, when the MC brothers were invited by Jesuit father Goodrow to come help the lepers who congregated around the railway station of Fatuha in those days. “Answering the call and in the spirit of our congregation, we reach out to the most discarded in society, to bring them some of God’s love and human dignity,” says Brother Kindo MC, who runs the facility.
It’s a small, humble and neatly maintained campus, with about 43 beds for leprosy patients who need to be cared and looked after, These patients are usually in the later stages of the disease , where the various parts of the body develop sores and at times even the digits of the limbs may fall off. It’s a care centre, a sort of home and resting place for the poorest of the poor, and the five brothers are trained paramedics.
The centre also has a small dispensary, where those in the early or less severe stages of the disease come for treatment and relief.
Also called Hanson’s Disease, Leprosy is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and it is a dreaded disease which produces skin ulcers, nerve damage and muscles weakness. The wounds and infections especially occurs on hand and feet and the infected part of the body loses its sensation. It is a disfiguring disease if not treated. It can be prevented if early diagnosis and timely treatment is given.
Few doctors in Bihar have specialization in leprosy, and government hospitals do not have leprosy wards.
In 1873, Dr. Hansen discovered bacteria in leprosy lesions, suggesting leprosy was an infectious disease, not a hereditary disease or a curse or punishment from the gods.
In fact, in the English language, the word ‘leper’ as a figure of speech means an outcast, someone who is shunned by all, a person nobody wants to touch. Even today, people are mortally afraid to go near a person with leprosy.
Leper no more (click the link for a video report)
Mohammad Shakur (43) is an example of how lives are changing for good in ‘Missionaries of Charity Brothers’ . How brothers of the missionary are serving people selflessly can be found in this success story. 5 brothers of ‘Missionaries of Charity Brothers’ treat and serve mentally challenged and leprosy patients for free. These patients generally belong to poor families and thus can not afford high profile treatment of private hospitals.
Mohammad Shakur is also among them. He was among 25 leprosy patients in ‘Missionaries of Charity Brothers’ living in a 2 storey building surrounded by beautiful plants and trees.
In 1990 when he found about his leprosy, he rushed to ‘Missionaries of Charity Brothers’ in Dhibra, Patna as he had some trust in the institution. Treatment was free of cost into the bargain. He said that he was treated by the brothers who turn out to be like angels to him. Every time, when the wounds would heal in 2 months or 3, he returned home. As the leprosy infected parts of the body do not have any sensation, he would injure his leprosy infected leg and return for another bout of treatment, but brothers were never annoyed and helped him each time.
In the long run, he was cured of his disease and brothers again did a favour for him, offering him the job of assisting in the care of other patients who are admitted for long term treatment. He got a job in the care centre at Dhibra where he was treated.
“I am completely cured and healthy now and I am able earn some money for my family. I am grateful for Mother Teresa who was a mother for all the discarded people and for this organisation that she started ‘Missionaries of Charity Brothers’ .
Newsnet Desk with inputs from Preeti Dayal and Tanya Trivedi