'Kindness gives birth to kindness'

Peter Waddup, CEO - The Leprosy Mission Great Britain

‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

At The Leprosy Mission we are compiling our annual financial report for 2023. This is an essential document necessary to meet our legislative requirements. It may not sound the most exciting of reads yet a quick dip in reminds me of the sheer diversity of our work!

Last week I talked about all our incredible supporters are doing to 'future proof' our work. The first specialist leprosy nursing college opens in India in September! The Leprosy Mission runs 14 hospitals in India, all of which need specialist nurses. As many of our nurses are approaching retirement age, it is essential that we train up a new generation. We are so blessed and thankful that our supporters recognised this need on the near horizon. By doing so they made sure that someone diagnosed with leprosy today is cared for for life.

We plan sustainable projects that, over time, fight both leprosy and poverty. Yet each year there is a curveball and an urgent need to meet. 2023 proved to be no exception. In the countries in which we work, millions of lives were blighted by political unrest, famine and climate disasters. In April, fighting broke out between two rival factions of the military government of Sudan. In July, a military coup took place in Niger. Insecurity continued to hinder our work in Ethiopia, Myanmar and Mozambique.

Despite these immense challenges my dedicated colleagues on the frontline carried on serving. Fuelled by the generosity of our supporters, they risked their own lives to help people affected by leprosy. These are the people who are always caught up in the middle of disasters. They are always the last to be reached, the first to go hungry and the ones left struggling to rebuild their lives. But through our incredible supporters, many were helped in their hour of greatest need. Communities plunged deeper into poverty in Niger received lifesaving food packages. Emergency aid was also given to those who lost everything after Cyclone Mocha hit Myanmar on 14 May.

Kindness is never wasted and I am honoured in my job to see the manifestation of its impact when paid forward. I have had the great privilege of visiting many of our projects and have heard the most amazing stories. Stories of people who have suffered the worst hardships and discrimination. Yet many have gone on to do remarkable things themselves. Their gratitude has led them to change countless lives themselves!

Only last month I spent time at the Rainbow Children's Home in India which we support. There I met a wonderful group of student nurses who all grew up in the children's home. They know it is only through the kindness of strangers that they are living the lives they do today. Students like Venki who comes from a leprosy colony and is now studying for a BSc in Nursing. Venki knows she is likely to never meet the people who gave her a safe upbringing and an education. She is determined, however, to pay the kindness forward. She visits leprosy colonies and cleans and bandages the wounds of leprosy patients.

waddupthisweek #9.png

Venki had many happy years at the Rainbow Children's Home. She loved the other children as though they were her own brothers and sisters. It was through helping the younger children that she realised she wanted to take care of others. This planted a seed in her mind. From this small seed grew a passion for nursing. It was a happy day for everyone at the home when Venki won a place to study nursing at a prestigious medical college.

Venki told me 'I have been helped so much by people's kindness and now I am so happy that I will be able to give something back'.

We thank all our supporters for being the kind stranger giving hope and opportunity. Kindness is never wasted and can span the years and generations. Its power and reach is truly mindblowing, restoring justice to a broken world. As the Greek playwright Sophocles succinctly put it 'kindness gives birth to kindness'.