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Mario Joao - TLM Hero

A man from Mozambique in an orange shirt which says 'eu sou voluntario' - I am a volunteer

Mario was diagnosed with leprosy in 1983, when he was 22. He was initially taken to a traditional healer, who did not provide the multi-drug therapy that he needed to cure him. By the time he received the treatment he needed, leprosy had caused him a lot of harm and he had lost a finger to the disease.

Mario has used this experience for the best. Since 2005, Mario has been acting as a community volunteer. He visits other villages and speaks to the community's leader, asking for permission to talk to the community about leprosy. Once he and his fellow volunteers have permission, they go from house to house and then hold a small meeting in the village. He helps people identify possibly symptoms of leprosy and helps them to access treatment. He makes it clear to them that treatment is free for them to access and is effective. He tells people that he is an example of what happens when treatment comes too late.

In his time as volunteer, Mario thinks he has found hundreds of people who needed treatment for leprosy. He is a man with a strong sense of presence, a calm man who is seen as a leader by his community.