When eight-year-old Christian arrived at our partner hospital in the Philippines, he had red lesions all over his face. The local clinic had told him and his mom that he had a fungal infection. But when the lesions began to spread, a friend urged them to visit our partner hospital in Cebu.
When the staff told Christian and his parents he had leprosy, fear filled their hearts and minds. “Finding out I had leprosy was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,” Christian said. “Bad memories of what happened to my brothers flashed back and I was so scared.”
You see, the really sad news is that he had three other siblings who were diagnosed with leprosy a few years ago – and it was the most painful experience the family had ever endured. The fear that came to their faces was not about the disease – they knew it was curable. Their fear was about other people.
Fear and Stigma
Christian’s mom explained, “We had close friends and relatives who we thought would stand by us . . . but instead they pushed us away and actually petitioned us out of the neighborhood! There were even times when other children threw rocks at my kids . . . We knew it was possible our other kids might get leprosy at some point, but never did we expect Christian to have to go through this at such a young age.”
“Christian is probably the smartest of all my kids – he graduated primary school with academic recognition. So we don’t want him to have to drop out of school or be bullied the same way the others were. He’s too young to handle so much.”
Christian himself said, “I am scared the neighbors will drive us away if they know . . . I don’t ever want to see my mother cry so hard again. I would hear her sobbing late at night when she heard a bad word from our neighbors. It made me so sad.”
Trust in God
The family is poor and barely getting by – Christian’s father makes about $4 dollars a day as a shoemaker. But they learned to trust God and rely on Him and on each other.
Thanks to YOUR gifts and prayers, we helped Christian get the care and treatment he needed at our partner clinic – which is many hours away from the public scrutiny of their neighborhood.
“We decided not to tell anyone about Christian’s leprosy. The past experience was just too painful – though they are nice to us now, the scar will always be here,” Christian’s mom said, pointing to her heart. “We have learned many lessons – one is that we have only our faith in God and each other to turn to. We travel many hours each way to come all the way here for Christian’s treatment – but it is worth it to keep it private.”
Hope and Healing Thanks to You
“I am focused on getting well and my studies,” Christian says. “On the weekends, I feed our farm animals. I really love the goats – they are my best friends. Christmas is my favorite though because everyone is always happy then. We get to eat good food and hear mass at dawn together. It is a very nice feeling!”
Thanks to your support, Christian is cured – and able to do it without ever being bullied or shunned by his neighbors as his siblings were. Thank you for this, and may God bless you for helping to make this little boy’s miracle come true.