On Sunday afternoon, TLM supporters, Board members and staff joined together at Lisburn Cathedral for the annual World Leprosy Day service.
The service was hosted by Rev Danielle McCullagh, a curate at the Cathedral, and included worship, prayer, talks, interviews and a video introducing TLM’s World Leprosy Sunday campaign, Heal Nepal.
Joanne Briggs, TLM NI national director, talked about how we – all who are followers of Jesus – are the light of the world and that we are called to illuminate things of great worth. In the case of TLM and our supporters it is to shine a light on those with leprosy.
“Most people I speak to haven’t heard about leprosy,” Joanne said. “They don’t know that it still exists and can destroy a person’s life. Our role is to shine a light on those with leprosy and make sure they are not forgotten; our call is to raise awareness about this terrible disease and the needless suffering of so many.”
During the service, Peter Hilton, TLM NI’s church and school engagement officer, interviewed Katherine Aiken and Hannah Gardiner, two medical students from Northern Ireland who spent six weeks at TLM’s Anandaban Hospital in Nepal last year, researching leprosy ulcers, and gender issues, as they completed a Masters in research. They also shared about how they witnessed the staff at Anandaban help the patients and bring them light and hope through prayer and devotions.
Nepal is the focus for this year’s World Leprosy Sunday campaign. There are thousands of people living with undiagnosed leprosy in this country and our hope for the Heal Nepal campaign is to find, cure and heal people with leprosy. This may mean reaching them through outreach teams before they develop permanent disabilities or caring for them for months at Anandaban Hospital while their wounds heal and they undergo life-changing surgery.
And from 27 January to 27 April any donations made to this campaign will be doubled by the UK government. If you give £24, to cure and care for one person affected by leprosy, it will be doubled to £48 by the UK government, and will cure and care for TWO people!
International development secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “Heal Nepal will not only improve the health and dignity of thousands of people living with leprosy, it will also mean that female community volunteers receive medical training to diagnose and manage the illness in some of the country's most remote areas. Every time the British public reach into their pockets and donate to a UK Aid Match charity, the government matches their contributions pound for pound. This appeal is directly changing the lives of some of the world's most vulnerable people.”
You can find out more about Heal Nepal and donate, here: http://healnepal.org.uk/
We would love to come and speak at your World Leprosy Sunday service, you can book one of our speakers here.
World Leprosy Day has been observed globally on the last Sunday in January since 1954 as a way to raise awareness of leprosy all around the world.