"I was healthy as a fish: I was running a restaurant and serving my guests omelettes and lamb kebabs," Mahreb Adoum (49) smiles. "I learned to cook from a Sudanese chef, and earned more when it tasted better. But suddenly I got red spots on my abdomen and back and my feet started to get red. Twenty years ago, I started to feel pains in my eyes and went to the capital N’Djamena (Chad) to get them cured, but it didn’t work."
Mahreb Adoum is blind. He can’t see because of leprosy he caught 35 years ago. "Good medicine cured my feet," Mahreb smiles, "but unfortunately I can’t work as a chef anymore because I can’t see."
Mahreb is married to Haoua Djibrine (40). "We never had any children," Mahreb tells. "I have had three operations to enable me to have children but all were unsuccessful," Haoua adds. "Fortunately our six year old niece Amama Amet Djibrine can live with us. She helps us with the things we have to do. Together we guard the mango tree in the orchard and make sure it doesn’t get robbed."
"I don’t mind that my wife can’t bear children," Mahreb Adoum says. "I’m not happy with my own handicap: how can you be satisfied with being blind? I am very pleased with The Leprosy Mission," he smiles. "We are very happy when Geeske Zijp (TLM’s team leader in Chad) visits us. And fortunately I’m cured from leprosy."
"I’m the eldest of four brothers, they live approximately fifty kilometres away," Mahreb continues. "Every single one of them has children: one has nine children, the other seven and the third six. I see them once a year. Sometimes I receive a little something but I can’t count on it. My family doesn’t care about me. Luckily I have a pure heart and I’m not jealous."
Mahreb and Haoua received a horse and a cart from The Leprosy Mission to get water. "We let our horse and cart and earn a part of our living," Manreb and Haoua say. "And when the millet stands tall, we earn money by farming it. The Leprosy Mission helps us to keep afloat."