Leper village of Eabhok,
Buon Me Thuat
by Vu Hai Dang (translated to English)

During 1996, Lua Viet contributed $1,000 to help renovate and build classrooms for the children in the village of Eabho^k, a minority community and also a leper colony. This project has brought to the children a number of clean and well lit classrooms. In addition, the project has reenergized the few teachers in the village in the difficult task of teaching the poor students.

Life for the villagers continues to be plagued by poverty and hunger, and the disease only adds to the suffering that they endure each day. The government provides some assistance, but it is grossly inadequate; therefore, the villagers continue to have to use their distorted hands and feet to work to provide for themselves. They plant crop, raise farm animals and make handcrafts, but unfortunately, the middlemen or the neighboring villagers usually pay a very low price for their products.

In a modern society like the U.S., advances in medicine bring us a clear understanding of leprosy. We know that the Hensen virus of this disease cannot survive outside the blood, therefore the virus cannot live in fruit, vegetable, or utensils. However, in remote village in Vietnam, misconceptions about the disease abound and products from leper village are routinely shunned because of fear of contracting the disease.

Many infected people from the village refuse medicine and instead leave the village to beg on the streets, bringing with them open wounds that attract flies and maggots, hoping to evoke pity from passer-by. I talked to many of these beggars and they said: "When I go beg on the street, at least I may have something to eat; if I stay home, I will die sooner or later". Often, young students in the classroom would ask the teachers to be excused from the class so that they can go begging to help their mother or father.

Recently, thanks to the attention and assistance from many people, including Lua Viet and especially the Sisters of the Vinh Son church who actively serve the village, the problem with begging has eased somewhat and the children are attending classes more regularly. The Head Sister of the village Eabhok has sent to Lua Viet a letter to express gratitude for the assistance, as well as a number of pictures. Below is an excerpt from the letter.

"We would like to thank all donors who have helped these children who are less fortunate than other children of their age. The special atttention and love from Lua Viet will help them to feel less rejected and alienated from the society",
Sister Le^ Thi. Mie^n, N.T.B.A.

Take a picture tour of the village...

The school before renovation

Front view of the new village school

Students in the old classroom

Nicole Vecci, a Lua Viet colleague,
visited the village clinic

The villagers in tradditional

luaviet@luaviet.org 01/27/02 22:35