The Myanmar Christian Leprosy Mission has come up with an innovative way to honor and encourage sufferers, by organizing a series of Lepers Day events. Simultaneous celebrations were held last weekend in every one of the Mission’s 11 centers nationwide. “Although they are in this world and alive, they often seem to consider themselves as hopeless,” said one of the organizers, Sister Soe Soe of the St. Theresa Lepers’ Colony and Orphanage, in Pyay diocese. “We want to show that we understand their feelings and we consider them to be equal to other people. So we arranged Lepers Day specially for them.” Around 60 guests, including priests, nuns, villagers and boarding students joined the lepers for the event at the St. Theresa Colony. Father Simon, a local parish priest, celebrated a special Mass and a Buddhist monk offered blessed food. Afterwards the lepers were presented with gifts and listened to talks on spiritual well-being and on environmental awareness. “They may be despised by others, but we need to help them both physically and spiritually,” said Fr Simon. U Tin Myint has been at the center for more than 45 years. He developed a sore in his leg when he was young and, without proper care, has condition steadily worsened. “I really do thank the nuns for taking care of us, regardless of our religion,” he said. “I was abandoned by my wife and son, but now with the help of the nuns, I don’t have to worry about my daily food as others do.” The majority of the colony’s 29 residents are Buddhists; others are Baptists and Catholics. “We look after them, make sure they’re fed properly and we invite doctors to give them occasional medical check-ups” said Sr Soe Soe. Since 2004, the center has been run by Sr Soe Soe and two other RNDM nuns who take care of the colony as well as around 60 children. To offer financial as well as day-to-day help, the nuns have now started running a micro-credit program for the lepers’ families, with the help of the Yangon-based Mission.