My first long-distance trip led me to Kenya in 1976. It was supposed to be a sunny and relaxing holiday, but then something unexpected happened, something outstanding, which gave my life a completely new sense.

During a sightseeing tour in Mombasa I suddenly found myself in a street where I encountered a group of crippled and mutilated people. They made every effort to attract the attention of the tourists passing by.  They were sitting on planks equipped with little rollers. They painfully moved forward on theses hand-made skateboards by means of their mutilated hands. All the people in these streets were terribly disabled and could only crawl forward. They reached out their mutilated arms towards the tourists but nobody took any notice of them. The people passing by turned away in disgust and very seldom did they throw a few coins towards them.

I saw gruesome figures, desperate faces, people who seemed to have lost their outward appearance and human dignity. They were leprosy people, outcasts and nobody cared for them.

This horrible picture was indelibly imprinted on my mind. I did not dare take photos and considered this as disrespectful towards these people. It was my first encounter with this scourge of humanity called leprosy.