Back in Bible times, a person who had been diagnosed with leprosy would immediately be sent away from their homes and village. Easton’s Bible Dictionary explains, “In Christ’s day no leper could live in a walled town, though he might in an open village. But wherever he was he was required to have his outer garment rent as a sign of deep grief, to go bareheaded, and to cover his beard with his mantle, as if in lamentation at his own virtual death. He had further to warn passers-by to keep away from him, by calling out, ‘Unclean! unclean!’ nor could he speak to any one, or receive or return a salutation, since in the East this involves an embrace.”
While the leprosy of today is not the same disease as the biblical leprosy, nevertheless, today’s victims are treated much the same – rejected by society and by their own families. Today’s victims also have to deal with the consequences of nerve loss, often leading to the loss of fingers and toes, and limited mobility. Many also develop cataracts. It’s a tragic life that Alla Gurumurthy knows all too well. We share his story below in his own words:
I am Alla Gurumurthy, a leprosy victim living in the AMG Valley of Love project for about 30 years. Now, I am 68 years old. AMG has been helping and supporting me to live a dignified and comfortable life.
When I was about 14 years old, I was affected by the dangerous disease leprosy. When they came to know about my disease, my family members rejected me. As a result of this, I left my native village and went to Anakapalle village.
As my disease was in the initial stage and it was not apparent, I was able to work as a daily wage laborer in a sugar factory and in the jaggery (sugar) market in Anakapalli. As time passed by, the disease progressed and worsened. I was unable to work and was frequently hospitalized. I used to beg on the roads for my food and survival. I used to sleep on the side of the road as well.
I came to know about the services of AMG organization. At that time, some leprosy victims and hospital staff told me about AMG services and their love, care and generosity towards leprosy patients.
Later, I came to the AMG office in Visakhapatnam and met the director. Seeing my condition, immediately she admitted me in the leprosy project program at AMG Valley of Love, Visakhapatnam.
Afterwards, I married Tulasi Bai, who I had met at Valley of Love, which was nice, because I found the love of my life through the actions of AMG whose leaders were selflessly loving lepers who have been rejected by society and their own flesh and blood. They helped me and my wife and gave us work in the AMG free clinic in the project. I have worked as a dresser [applying bandages] for leprosy victims for the past 28 years. I have also become a prayerful person and I believe that God is ever loving, kind and affectionate because of the blessings on us.
We always thank God for the love, care and compassion of AMG Valley of Love and also for providing free shelter, food, medicines, clothes, and financial support, for my better treatment. Also we thank AMG India for giving monthly support for us to live a dignified life in the society.
With today’s medicine, people newly diagnosed with leprosy today can begin treatments which control the disease and allow them to live fairly normal lives. But those who have already suffered deformities must live with those for the rest of their lives.
AMG International’s Valley of Love provides a way for leprosy victims like Alla and his wife to live with dignity. If you would like to help support AMG’s ministry to leprosy victims, click here to give your most generous gift. Thank you! Together we can meet the deepest needs of today’s leprosy victims.