Visiting friends, families, prisons, underprivileged centers, old people’s homes or an orphanage during the Christmas season can be fun as well as a sacrifice. On this premise, the Director of Health Services (DHS) Central Administration respected tradition on December 19, 2018 when they paid a visit to the inmates at New Hope Village in Mbingo Baptist Hospital (MBH) to share the love of Christ at Christmas. The inmates are ex-Hansen’s disease patients who could not return to their communities of origin either due to neglect or abandonment.
New Hope Village is hosting 18 people cured of the Hansen’s disease (HD) otherwise known as Leprosy. The Hansen’s disease Department of the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services is using the village to continue providing holistic care to the people pending total reintegration and reunion with their families.
Exhorting the people of New Hope Village, Pastor Fongoh Godwin, and Chaplain at CBC Health Services Central Administration said Christ should be at the center of every celebration during Christmas. According to him, Jesus Christ came to show God’s love for Mankind. Drawing inspiration from John 3:16, Chaplain Fongoh assured them that: “Christ is the perfect gift at Christmas that should cause anyone to reexamine their relationship with Him.” The Chaplain also presented to the inmates physical gifts from staff of the CBC Health Services Central Administration including 3 bags of rice, 2 cartons of washing soap (savon), 2 large tins of peak milk, 2 packs of toilet tissue, cooking oil, sugar and tea.
Speaking on behalf of the combined team from DHS Central Administration and Mbingo Baptist Hospital (MBH), Mr. Ndem Emmanuel, CBC Health Services Fixed Assets Manager called on the people of New Hope Village to exhibit brotherly love towards one another while holding fast to God’s love at Christmas. He noted with excitement that in the African culture “if you pay a visit to someone and meet him at home, in an expectant mode for the visit, then you are indeed a great guest.”
MBH Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Nora Ndi saluted the joy and camaraderie that existed among the inhabitants of the New Hope Village. Being her first visit to the village during her 6-year stay in Mbingo, she also brought them a Christmas gift and pledged to visit them more regularly.
The inhabitants of New Hope Village through their spokesperson expressed appreciation to their guests for thinking about them during this Christmas season.
Meeting the needs of people of New Hope Village can be very demanding given that many of the people there are left with major amputations due to their disease condition. Mr. Ngoran Augustine, Yard-Man at New Hope Village with over 19 years of service, says, “Giving care to the people is no longer a challenge to me. I bathe those who can’t on their own, clean their houses and run other errands for them. After all, they now see me as part of them.”
Pauline Vassimi, an inhabitant who doubles as the Chief of New Hope Village, has had to grapple with Hansen’s disease for quite a while now. After completing her treatment some 7 years ago and reuniting to her family, the condition resurfaced again. “The tissues on my leg got rot and the bone was exposed. I had to leave Balikumbit, a village in Santa Subdivision, Northwest Region of Cameroon and return to Mbingo Baptist Hospital in a rush for my life,” Narrates Pauline while adding that after an operation she had to return to New Hope Village.
The female Chief laments that for the time she has spent in the New Hope Village none of her family members have come to see her. “You are now my new family. I am honored by your gift and love,” says Pauline. Quizzed on how she leads her people in New Hope Village, Ma Pauline as fondly called by her subjects says “I handle them well! When there are any disputes, I judge and provide possible solutions.”
Mr. Fombang Oliver, Hansen’s disease Department Supervisor, notes that one of the major challenges the Mbingo Baptist Hospital Administration is facing is that of providing food and other recreational facilities to people at New Hope Village. To be able to provide holistic care to the people here, Mr. Fombang prescribed that you need to consider them as a part you.
“This is what I have done in the past to win their love for me. They are just so fond of me and this has lightened the burden of the disease on them. If I were to restart my career with CBC Health Services, I will still love to work with them,” retorts Oliver.
Paying a visit to New Hope Village can be a life-transforming trip. Christa Njerim, one of the team members said, “It was a time for me to come to reality with all the theories I have read in the past on people being disabled due to a disease condition. Just being here for a while has changed my perspective of extending love to people. Just singing a Christmas carol ignited great joy in the hearts of people of New Hope Village. I pray this could be a regular rendezvous.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) is an infection caused by slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. It can affect the nerves, skin, eyes, and lining of the nose (nasal mucosa). With early diagnosis and treatment, the disease can be cured. People with Hansen’s disease can continue to work and lead an active life during and after treatment.
Though Leprosy was once feared as a highly contagious and devastating disease, now we know it does not spread easily and treatment is very effective. Nonetheless, if left untreated, the nerve damage can result in crippling of hands and feet, paralysis, and blindness.
Visiting the underprivileged during Christmas is an old tradition in the CBC. It is an opportunity to share the joy of Christmas with people in the community. Merry Christmas!