There have been requests for a English language translation of the most recent video "Video - Loilem in Dezember 2017". Here is a translation of the original German text:
St. Lazarus Film, Jan. 2018 Myanmar, Loilem Leper Colony
Since 1938 the leper colony Loilem has been the only place where people afflicted with leprosy in southern Shan State, Myanmar, could find a home and healing.
There are about eight hundred lepers and their families in the colony, and more continue to arrive.
The colony is under the supervision of a priest and a group of nuns, who are responsible for the care and treatment of the ill.
The St. Lazarus-Fonds has been supporting the colony since 2014 and has provided direct and extensive help.
In order to improve the poor food supply situation and to improve earning possibilities the St. Lazarus-Fonds implemented an extensive and long term agricultural project in 2016.
Since water is in short supply for many months in the year in the colony villages, the St. Lazarus-Fonds also built two wells and made the construction of a third as well as water tanks possible.
The fund also supports the colony pre-school and via subsidies supports the children of lepers who attend school outside of the colony.
However, there are many deficiencies in the colony, and among others there is the catastrophic situation with the sanitary facilities, as well as poor hygiene in the homes of those most ill.
In order to provide a comprehensive improvement, the St. Lazarus-Fonds decided in 2017 to build new toilets and shower rooms for all houses in the main village in the colony, as well as instituting a hygiene training program.
The purchase of the building materials and the construction of the toilets started in October 2017 after the first donations were received.
In early December 2017 the St. Lazarus board members travelled to Myanmar again, two years after their last visit. The object was to get an overview of the state of the projects and to personally provide some hands-on assistance.
At first the board members met with their project partners in Taunggyi, the largest city in Shan State, to discuss the current and future projects as well as the upcoming visit in the leper colony.
Afterwards they purchased mattresses for the lepers, because particularly in the winter months these are badly needed.
They also purchased small backpacks so that the children in the colony kindergarten and schools could carry school materials.
The St. Lazarus-Fonds members also took the opportunity to visit a shelter for HIV-positive orphans, the St. Raffael House, which is managed by the Archdiocese Taunggyi.
Presently these children still live in a single small, dark room. The Archdiocese is therefore building a new building for the children and the nuns who look after them.
The Bishop of Taunggyi asked the St. Lazarus Fonds to finance the furnishings for the new rooms.
In the Bishop’s residence the board members gave the bishop the required funds, as well as school money for colony children, so that they could attend government schools outside the colony.
The next day the group set off on a trip through the mountains to the remote leper colony, a journey which would take many hours.
Once arrived, the helpers started off by distributing the mattresses they had purchased in Taunggyi, and met many people they had encountered on their previous visit.
Afterwards the villagers and the visitors to the colony prayed together for the success of the projects.
In the colony clinic the German doctor Dr. Thomas Gille presented the head nun with medical supplies brought from Germany, including disposable gloves and bandages.
He also assisted in treating the patients, with whom these materials were useful.
Afterwards the St. Lazarus board members went to view the agricultural projects which they had financed and implemented.
At first they viewed the new, enlarged stalls for the St. Lazarus-financed pigs. The pigs have already produced offspring and this has brought the colony the first income from the program.
Much has changed for the better since the first St. Lazarus Fonds visit two years ago. The inhabitants are actively involved in the breeding and care of the pigs and take these responsibilities very seriously.
There is room for the 50 new cows in the new cattle sheds. St. Lazarus-Fonds financed the acquisition of both the cows and the sheds. In the meantime new cows have been born, adding to the herd.
Another large investment was the refurbishment of the fish pond. In 2015 this was dried out and more like a swamp. Today it looks completely different.
The St. Lazarus-Fonds ensured a deepening of the pond, a reinforcement of the banks, and the fencing of the pond as well as 20,000 fish. The second generation of these fish is already here and means a lasting source of food as well as income for the people in the colony.
Fish from the pond were a welcome addition to the visitor’s lunch.
A further important part of the agricultural project is the planting of fruit. This is a long term project which will only pay off in a few years.
1400 dragon fruit plants have been planted in a field, financed by the St. Lazarus-Fonds. The plants will climb up posts which were set into the ground for this purpose.
1500 avocado and mango trees were planted on another, larger field. Just like the dragon fruit, these will bring good prices in the market.
At the time of the first St. Lazarus-Fonds visit this was just fallow land.
Now the plants have grown to small trees, which will bear fruit in five to six years.
After the construction of a well in the main village the St. Lazarus-Fonds found the financial means for three more wells in other leper colony villages. This will mean an improved water supply, particularly in the dry season.
In a second village in the colony the well and the associated water tanks are already finished and will provide the village with clean water year round.
When the St. Lazarus board members visited the facility the village headman expressed his thanks for the well.
In one of the other villages no water has been found so far, in spite of having drilled several holes. The inhabitants are now planning to connect the village with a natural spring, which is uphill and 5km away.
The St. Lazarus directors are determined to support the villagers in this initiative. In a meeting with the village committee they discussed how to proceed.
Then members of the village committee showed the St. Lazarus-Fonds board members the locations in the village where they will place water pipes, and where water tanks will be positioned.
The project with the new sanitary facilities is just getting going.
The St. Lazarus members visited some of the houses of the ill, who have to live with the old toilet houses.
Then they got a look at the current work and the toilets and baths which were already finished.
In doing so they got into conversations with the inhabitants, who were happy and thankful for the new facilities.
An important part of the project is giving the colony inhabitants training in the basic principles and practices of cleanliness and hygiene. This is often absent here, and means an additional danger for sick inhabitants.
The St. Lazarus board members were able to view such a training session.
The helpers didn’t want to just look, they also went to work.
Another new project in the colony which the St. Lazarus-Fonds considers important and worth supporting is the renovation of an old convent building, to turn it into a residence for older schoolchildren from the different villages in the colony.
When at home, the children must often help their families with housework and cannot study without being disturbed. This often leads to learning deficits and an early breaking off of education.
While staying in the residence during the school sessions the children will be able to study in a concentrated manner and will be looked after.
The St. Lazarus-Fonds will therefore support the renovation and furnishing of the building, in order to improve the very difficult situation the children of leprosy sufferers find themselves in.
At the end of the visit the board members distributed the backpacks to the colony schoolchildren. These are the ones who St. Lazarus Fonds hopes to give a better future through their long term projects.
The board members left the colony with the good feeling that the help from many supporters has been effectively implemented.
They also know that there is a lot to do and that there is still a long way to go before a dignified and certain life is possible in the leper colony.
Therefore the St. Lazarus Fonds will continue to create new perspectives for the colony inhabitants, and provide help for self-help.