Visiting leprosy villages in Andhra Pradesh

 

India, October 2023

In November, Benno traveled with Tina to India. The starting point of the trip was Delhi. There, they first met Sunny. After their onward journey, our friend Prakash welcomed them and joined them on the tour. Benno and Tina are reporting:

Travel report about the visit to the leprosy colonies in Andhra Pradesh and villages in the Suryabet region from October 25th to November 5th, 2023:

We arrived in Delhi at 2 am on October 26th. Since we had 3 hours until our onward flight to Visakhapatnam in the state of Andhra Pradesh, we met up outside the airport with our old friend Sunny, whom we brought 500 knitted hats. He will distribute them to those in need in the greater Delhi area, as it can get very cold here in winter time.

 In Visakhapatnam we were warmly welcomed by our new contacts for the leprosy villages, Prakash and Kanakaraju (nickname KK). Since we had been on our feet for more than 24 hours, we first went to the hotel to sleep for 2 hours. Afterwards we visited the first leper colony Sangham. Especially at the beginning of such a journey, the poverty and suffering that you see hits you. Nevertheless, we tried to do the best with the limited resources we had at our disposal to at least alleviate the biggest problems for the people we meet. It was often difficult to decide between help with everyday needs such as food, medication, bandages and more sustainable assistance such as access to clean drinking water by drilling wells, sewerage, toilets and training.

In Sangham we decided to do both. We bought 120 kg of rice, 20 kg of lentils and financed Miri's training as a nurse. After completing her training, she committed herself to helping the colony residents free of charge and donating part of her salary to the colony. This commitment was also important to us for financing further training.

The next day we went to Bapuji Colony where we financed a new water tank. Water tanks are important in the colonies because the drinking water pipe (if there is one at all) is usually only opened for a few hours a week. In the afternoon we drove on to the Bobbili Colony, where we had a well drilled. Although the people had some land at their disposal, they cannot grow anything because everything withers in the heat.

The next day we discovered how diverse the work and approaches to help can be. David was the only resident of a leper village who, through hard training, managed to be allowed to play in a professional cricket team. He had only a very simple racket. Since we see him as a role model for many other young people from the leper villages, we bought him a new “professional bat” so that he can get as far as possible in his career as a cricketer.

We continued to the Narava, Narava Betsayida, Kakinada Vimukti, Kakinada Prabhu, Bhimavaram, Bapatla, Bunnynagar, Dhone and Khammam colonies,

The cuddly toys and balls we brought with us were always very well receivedsmiley

No matter whether it was about a uterus operation, training, rice, access to clean drinking water, toilets, medication, bandages, prostheses or micro-enterprise start-up financing, we always tried to achieve the best for the colonies with our limited resources.

It was always important to us to find a balance between immediate help for the most urgent needs and sustainable help.

On November 3rd it was time to say goodbye to Prakash and KK. Both have grown dear to our heart over the course of the week.

Our journey wasn't over yet. Through a contact from the Baunach pastor, we visited eight other villages with Madan and Previn. The main problem here was that the groundwater was contaminated with fluoride, which causes the bones to become soft. In addition to the probably very difficult attempt to hold those accountable who are responsible for the fluoride in the groundwater, we will finance some drinking water treatment plants so that at least the children are no longer harmed to the point where they would face problems due to this for the rest of their lives.

We are also supporting a great teacher couple who are devoting their life's work to run a school for destitute and orphans.

What's always great about trips like this is that friendships are made. For example, one evening we were invited by our driver Previn to his private house. His wife cooked and his daughter danced her favorite dance for us.

In summary, it was another very emotional, exhausting but fulfilling journey. After our return it took us a few days to get back to the “German everyday routine”. But we hope that we were able to help many people and make the world a little bit better smiley.

 

 

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Arrival in Delhi at 03.00 a.m. and meeting with Sunny. Handover of 500 self-knitted caps.
We buy 130 kilos of rice and 20 kilos of lentils.
Here we discuss the drilling of a well so that they can irrigate their fields.
We drill a well in the Naraba New Colony because they have to carry water from far away.
Here, rice is inspected.
This morning we are in the Kakinada Vimutki colony.
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Around 80 new bandages are applied in the dressing station every day. Ideally, these need to be changed daily, which is often not possible for financial reasons.
Here, too, we were able to bring a smile to some of the children's faces with the cuddly toys.
Impressions from the road.
Always a common sight in the hinterland

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