The leprosarium of Nacopa, in the province of Nampula, the most populous of Mozambique, in the north of the country, is quite old.Founded in the fifties of the last century, it has been the reference point of a vast rural area and has hosted hundreds of lepers in time.The peak attendance was recorded in the mid-nineties, after the end of the civil war, when the country's overall situation improved and the coverage of treatment programs was increased. The increase in admissions has led to the remission of the disease (Hansen's disease is now perfectly curable) and today leprosy is no longer a health emergency in Mozambique. This does not mean that sufferers of the past still suffer from many limitations and continue to require assistance and proximity.
Therefore, the Community of Namitoria, a small village in the district of Angoche, has visited the leprosarium of Nacopa and its 45 guests for ten years now.
They are mostly elderly people, who arrived there as children with their sick parents, and they have never moved since then, not knowing where else to go. Sometimes the lepers are helped by the so-called "grandchildren" (usually orphans), who help them to do household chores in return for hospitality.
The friendship of Sant'Egidio with the lepers of Nacopa has developed in the fidelity of the visit, through the distribution of food aid or clothes, with the major events of the Christmas dinner. When visiting Nacopa, one understood the needs of a forgotten reality, where no one cared any more for the supply of some goods or the maintenance of housing. The houses, as you can see from the photos, were in very poor condition, often unsafe, without any windows or doors. Hence, the choice of the Community of Namitoria to work to change things.
Starting from the houses. The house is really a sign of a different life, a dream of normality and dignity. An elderly leper said when he went into his new house: "Now I can sleep peacefully. Even if it rains I don’t get wet". But all guests of Nacopa felt extremely happy when they were given the restored houses, and proudly showed off the "termo de entrega", the delivery statement, which guaranteed them the opportunity to live in the new homes. For everyone, that was the end of the emergency and provisional condition, the beginning of stability and of future planning.
An entirely new future not only for them, but also for the whole village.
It can be said that the restoration has "upgraded" the area. New families have settled in the vicinity, helping to draw the area out of the abandonment in which it was sinking.