In 1995, it was the time of the war between Russia and Chechenya. We continued our trip and travelled through the Caucasus for 7 hours towards the south. My husband was in the lorry transporting relief goods and I accompanied a medical doctor who had met us half-way in her ambulance from the Leprosarium Terski I order to welcome us.

 

Although the roads were broad and paved we could not drive very fast since the lanes were narrowed in regular intervals. Every vehicle had to stop and was checked without exception. Armed soldiers and tanks were to be seen everywhere on the roads. We arrived at the leprosarium after midnight. There was darkness and absolute silence and we took each other’s hands in order not to stumble. We were lead to a house and much to our surprise saw a laid-out table and some members of the stuff who had been patiently waiting for us. The atmosphere was cordial and compensated me for all the problems and inconveniences we had had to overcome during this trip. We spent many hours talking and finally the Dr. Michael Gridasow, the head physician, said, “The ward round is at  8 o’clock and we will start with the most critical patients.”

The Leprosarium Terski is situated in the country and I immediately noticed that cleanliness and tidiness were very important. The patients were both surprised and glad about our arrival. They were very communicative and told us about their illness and families, their long suffering and the proceeding mutilations and crippledness.
One female patient asked me to tell her about my life first and added that she would then talk about herself. I followed this unusual request and thought about could be interesting for her. She interrupted the silence and asked me, “Do you believe in God?”, and I replied, “Of course, otherwise I would not be here with you.” I visited every patient in their room, held their hands and promised to help them as far as I could. While the wounds were being dressed, I was deeply shocked when I saw the mutilations of their feet caused by leprosy. The patients placed a layer of cotton wool under their soles, as the supply of appropriate shoes was very poor. But despite their difficulties to move and walk as well as their mutilated hands, they had managed to attend to the gardens and fields of the leprosarium. I was deeply impressed and awestruck by the results of their work.

 

2007

 

Gelände des Terski-Leprosoriums
Grounds of the Terski Leprosarium
Herzliches Gespräch mit Patientin
Together with a patient of the leprosarium

I visited the Leprosarium Terski for the third time.
I had cordial conversation with the leprosy patients and they seemed like old friends to me. They are always very grateful for new acquisitions. Wheel chairs, for example, improve the patients’ quality of life considerably and enable them to move around the leprosarium and in the fresh air independently for long hours. Thanks to these leprosy people. , I was able to help these leprosy people. “Do not forget us”, were their last words when I left them.

Gesunde und verstümmelte Hand im Vergleich
Mutilated and healthy hands in comparison
Veraltete Prothesen noch in Gebrauch
Very old ’prosthesis’

2009

Dr. Michail Gridasow is still head physician of the Leprosarium Terski. In 200, the 110th anniversary was celebrated and on this occasion a training conference was held. This was a possibility for me to visit the patients and to supply them with goods needed as far as I could. They were very pleased and accepted any help with gratefulness. When we said good-bye, they shouted “Romana, do not forget us and promise to come back!”

2012

Leprosy journey 2012