There was a time when the world considered leprosy to be a serious health issue that caused fear among society. Despite this fear leprosy victims tend to live quietly in the final part of their lives.
There were eleven ex-patients living in the village on the other side of the river and we were told that this was the first time they had been visited by foreigners. When our visit was coming to a close they came to say goodbye. When I looked back at the village from our small, unsteady rowboat I saw old houses almost to the point of ruin. I’m sure there were people living there. Despite being excluded from society and discriminated against they were open towards strangers like us. The barrier that divided them from society was something other than the width of the river. I crossed the river to witness the death of a disease but it felt strange to know that the villagers had not crossed it for decades.