SHORT LEPROSY PORTRAIT

Mrs and Mrs Appy


To Dream or To Do

The lives of Mr and Mrs Appy are similar in many ways. Twenty years ago they discovered that they had leprosy, and together they moved to a camp for leprosy patients in the town of Ogbomoso. The husband and wife sustained wounds to their legs, and seven years ago each had a leg amputated. This didn't prevent them from raising four children in the camp.
Today Mr Appy is repairing his wife's prosthesis. He learned how to do this on a training course provided by Damien Foundation. Appy also learned how to repair shoes, and now he makes sandals with extra thick soles for everyone in the camp. These special soles are extremely important, because some leprosy patients have no sensation in their legs and can't feel it when they step on something. Mister Appy dreams about leaving the camp and starting up as a shoemaker in the area where he was born. But what prevents him is the fact that his wife has had exactly the same experience. “I might get away with saying that I've had a car accident, but there is something odd about us both having a prosthesis. And once people realise that it wasn't an accident, but leprosy, they will keep their distance: I won't have any customers”, he says with a sigh.
And so, in his workshop, mister Appy daydreams about their future. He is making plans. But for the time being, it’s more about dreaming than doing.

Damien Foundation, 25 years in Nigeria with leprosy patients

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

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