SHORT LEPROSY PORTRAIT

Maria Oladoyin en Maria Ajike


Friends for Life

Maria and Maria are dressed in their best. They are wearing their identical festive dresses because someone is coming to visit from Damien Foundation Belgium, and they want them to know how pleased they are with the organisation's help. And besides, visits of any kind are something to celebrate: last year they had only one visit each from their children.

Damien Foundation in Nigeria fights against leprosy. Stories of patient.
Luckily, they have each other. Maria and Maria met in the camp forty years ago and became friends. And since the death of their husbands that friendship has only strengthened. They are neighbours and spend most of their days at the front door. They chat about their medical condition, about other people in the camp and about the past.

Leprosy has severely deformed their hands and feet, but they help each other with their everyday chores. The two Marias are slightly blind and deaf, but they seem to understand each other perfectly, as if they have developed a language of their own. Maria and Maria: thrown together by the disease, but inseparable ever since.

TEXTS: Wendy Huyghe
PHOTOS: Tim Dirven @T.Dirven for Damien Foundation

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