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Community of lepers shot in the arm

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About 22 people living with leprosy at Utale 2 in Balaka were all smiles last Sunday after Beautify Malawi (Beam) Trust generously donated various food items to them to avert the grinding hunger in the country.

Speaking when he made the donation, Executive Member of Beam Trust, Ellen Chisale, said people living with leprosy at Utale often live in deprived conditions because most non-governmental organisations (NGOs) neglect them and the First Lady thought of alleviating their plight during these hard times.

“We thought of rendering a helping hand to people affected by leprosy who live as a community at Utale because most of the times they are neglected and people do not think about them. As a result, their living conditions are deplorable and with this biting hunger things are even worse,” Chisale said.

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Chisale said people with leprosy living at Utale were abandoned by relatives and to a greater extent depend on the Catholic Church for their daily needs which puts pressure on the church.

Receiving the donation on behalf of the lepers, Father Dominic Chikankheni, Parish Priest for Utale 2, said it is not easy to take care of the daily needs of the lepers as the cost of living is high in an economy on the downward spiral.

“We welcome any assistance for our friends with leprosy. Of course, leprosy was eradicated in Malawi but new cases of recurring wounds of leprosy still present themselves here and we treat and feed them daily. However, life is tough as the Italians who used to help abandoned us a long time ago,” Chikankheni said.

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He said its not easy to procure medication for the people and called upon well-wishers to come forward and help with dressing materials, iodine, spirit and an ambulance for referring the lepers to Balaka District Hospital situated 30km away.

MP for Balaka South, Frank Mapondo, said he personally asked the First Lady to help the lepers to pay school fees for destitute students in his constituency.

“With this hunger, the community of lepers is feeling the pinch because not a lot of well-wishers come forth to render a helping hand in these hard times,” Mapondo said.

Beam Trust donated maize, sugar and beans among other food stuffs and earlier presented cheques worth over K300,000 to pay for fees for needy students of the constituency.

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