The Dawn of Life - A Photo Essay by Grzegorz Wełnicki
Do not look at leper's hands, look deep into his eyes, and you will see a real desire for love.
In 1969, a Polish Pallottine priest, together with doctor Adam Wiśniewski and Barbara Birczyńska, established the Social and Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre Jeevodaya in the State of Chhattisgarh, south of Abhanpur. They began their work and life in Jeevodaya by building three tents in which they set up a house, a church, and a clinic. For lepers the Centre is an exceptional place, they say there is no other like this.
People come here not only from nearby villages, but often from other states too.
The clinic provides also simple treatments like teeth drilling.
Although they are suffering from severe diseases, some people at the Centre still have a smile on their face.
Lepers are part of the clinic’s staff. They forget their own illness, often by finding joy in life and in helping others.
The lack of awareness is a major problem. People neglect their families’ health, as well as their own general condition, and sometimes they visit the doctor when it is too late.
Lepers, although rejected by society, are simply people who -in an unusual way- love life more and more every day.
Jeetram, loved by all the children in the Centre, is probably the only leper pharmacist in the world. Although his hands are mutilated by leprosy, he still can help others.
Dressings are changed every day at 2 p.m. in a small room of the clinic.
Next to the clinic there is a boarding school, giving lepers’ children the opportunity to study. It is a place where their rights to enjoy their childhood are respected. The school teaches children how not to go back to the slums they came from, and how to help the ones who still live there.
Dr. Helena Pyz has been living and working in Jeevodaya for 22 years. She has raised over 400 children, and people love and trust her. Her invalid leg makes walking very difficult. However, Dr Helena always says “People are waiting, I need to go”.
Photos & text: Grzegorz Wełnicki. All Rights Reserved
About the photographer:
Born 1986, Warsaw, Poland, Grzegorz has been interested in drawing and painting since childhood. He started taking pictures at the age of 18, continuously improving his skills in reportage and documentary photography. Grzegorz is also passionate about traveling and meeting new people.
In November 2009, Grzegorz Wełnicki together with Paweł Boczkowski and Wojtek Czajka formed Holograf, a group of photographers driven by their passion of documenting reality. (www.holograf.net)
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