Ngoy Mawala, from DR Congo, had leprosy for a long time before he was properly diagnosed with the disease.
He visited many hospitals and clinics to find out what was wrong with him, but no-one could tell him. Finally, in Kinzao-Mvuete village, an experienced nurse told him that it could be leprosy and he was transferred to Loango Luvungu leprosy hospital.
When his wife found out that Ngoy had leprosy, she fled, taking their two children with him because she feared that they would all contract the disease. But not only did Ngoy lose his family, he also lost his job - planting trees on behalf of the environment ministry - because he had leprosy.
Ngoy has lost feeling in his feet; because he was not diagnosed with leprosy quickly enough the leprosy bacterium damaged his nerve-endings and now his feet are insensitive to pain. He wears protective shoes to prevent any further damage.
Some years later, a violent storm tore the roof off his house. With few resources, he resorted to making himself a thin-walled bamboo shed which did little to protect him from the rain and cold. He lived in this shed for six months. What made matters worse was that because he had leprosy and because his living conditions were so poor, the community shunned him.
In the Bas Congo West province of DR Congo, The Leprosy Mission (TLM) has a socio-economic development project. The staff heard about Ngoy’s plight. They were able to contribute to building a new house for him. With his better, larger house, Ngoy was able to rent out one of the rooms so that he has some income at the end of each month. TLM staff made sure, through education sessions, that the local community understood the facts about the disease; they realised that they did not have to be afraid of catching leprosy from Ngoy. This meant that Ngoy was able to find someone to rent his spare room easily. And it also meant that he was able to get married again. Ngoy believes that his dignity has been restored thanks to TLM.Back to The Leprosy Mission World