28 August, 2020
- Mosadoluwa Agbonyin
OKE-IGBALA Leprosy Settlement is a community located at the outskirts of Omu Aran, Kwara State, Nigeria. With a population of about 375 inhabitants (175 Persons Affected by Leprosy (PALs) and their families). Some of the inhabitants of this settlement have been living there for over 30 years.
Here, the inhabitants were subjected to terrible living conditions such as living in dilapidated buildings, zero access to clean water, and no access to good sanitary facilities. These factors affected the livelihood of the People Affected by Leprosy who are mostly individuals with amputated arms & legs, and poor eye-sight.
Damien Foundation is touched by the plights of these neglected populace in the society and so is determined to eliminate every factor that contributes to their problems. Some of which are providing the basic amenities like upgrading their place of residence, provision of clean and drinkable water, modern sanitary facilities, provision of sustainable power supply amongst others. This has always been our core values and vision: to give the best life can offer to the People Affected by Leprosy.
In October, 2019; the first phase of the reconstruction of two blocks of building (10 rooms), a block of toilet and bath (5 rooms), and installation of borehole and water storage system was commissioned for the Persons Affected by Leprosy in the Oke Igbala Leprosy Settlement. Despite the lockdown caused by the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020, the reconstruction of the second phase commenced and was commissioned on the 19th of August, 2020. These are three blocks of building (15 furnished rooms), a block of toilets and bath (6 rooms) and clean water facility connected to a capacity of 10,000 litres of water.
Although these Persons Affected by Leprosy are unable to return to their homes due to fear of discrimination and stigmatization, this project has had a positive effect on their lives. It has brought tremendous joy to them, improved their living conditions, averted public health diseases related to open defecation and unhygienic environment, as well as the invasion of dangerous reptiles. This has also changed the way people see them, it makes them feel like humans and most of all it has enhanced political commitment.
According to the testimony of one of the Persons Affected by Leprosy, the reconstruction has made him sleep better and has made the settlement the envy of neighbouring communities.
Through this intervention, Damien Foundation has been able to achieve zero discrimination and stigmatization on these individuals.