The concern for the needy people in the world has provided new opportunities for the citizens of Dinslaken over the past decades.

We discovered Leprosy people and their endless suffering, crippling, mutilation and blindness. A lot of strength and empathy helped us to organize an aid project in Dinslaken.

We did not discover people suffering from tuberculosis. No, they enforced themselves on us: “Why do you only help leprosy people and not us who are suffering from tuberculosis? It is not our fault that we have the wrong disease”, TB sufferers in northern India complained in 1988.

It was obvious that we had to mobilize our forces even more in order to also help TB sufferers. Within the next few years, we were even able to cope with the prison work in Russia (Tver region between Moscow and St. Petersburg – from 2000 - 2005) and to decrease the death rate among prisoners suffering from tuberculosis from 56 to 3 cases per year.

We also saved “Babrowka”, a bone tuberculosis centre for children in the Crimea (then Ukraine) with approximately 300 children from closure. The children were cured and disabilities prevented.

At present we successfully support the tuberculosis hospital in Grodno Belarus.

Leprosy work has been constantly continued on the Indian subcontinent and also since 1990, following the dissolution of the USSR in 16 independent countries covering 1/6th of the inhabited earth surface. We are present there from Dinslaken. With what results?

Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador, accompanied me on my travels to Central Asia in 2012 and 2013.

In Tajikistan, on the border with Afghanistan, he said, “I have been to 125 countries so far to examine the situation of leprosy people. But what I can see here is the best””

In each of these 16 countries we have a reference person and therefore are able to keep the current situation of leprosy “under control”.

Our possibilities suddenly expanded unexpectedly in the year 2000, I was confronted with deaf and dumb children in Belarus and also in Tajikistan and Karakalpakstan. In these countries we have succeeded in training doctors and speech therapists and in sending the necessary equipment from Berlin to the target countries. We are currently securing the surgical options for these children.

The Bombay Leprosy Project – BLP – is currently the largest leprosy projected mainly supported by the town of Dinslaken.

It is the only facility in Bombay where leprosy people are treated by a specialist free of charge every day.

In the other 20 hospitals, leprosy people are treated by general doctors for only 4 hours a week and have to cover the treatment themselves.

Although the world’s highest incidence of leprosy is recorded in Bombay with its 26 million inhabitants, I can report with great pleasure that we in Dinslaken have been able to save this project from closure. Currently, our main concern is to keep the project functional.

The numbers of newly detected cases of leprosy worldwide have remained stable at approximately 250,000 cases per year.

For us it means that the fight against leprosy continues until the day when we can say: “Our world is free of Leprosy”.

(Romana Drabik published in the Parish News “Kirche + Leben No. 37, September 15, 2019)