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Happiness Is Not Riches

by Ngenwuthe 12 months ago in happiness
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A true observation

I had read about lepers and leprosy in several books, but had never come in very close contact with them until I picked up a job in one of the schools in their settlement site. This gave me the opportunity to know more about them as I interacted with their kids in the school and during parents-teachers meetings.

The settlement site or camp was a place where lepers who had gotten well from their confinement camp, we're settled. I learned how in the past, persons identified with leprosy were treated as outcasts and confined outside the community. They were not supposed to mix with other citizens, but lived very far apart, either in the bushes or in confinement camps, away from the community. Anyone who was identified with leprosy was taken to the leprosy camp because leprosy was known to be highly contagious. Special Doctors were assigned to go to the camp from time to time to administer treatment to the confined lepers. The sick persons would live there until they were fully healed. When they were proven totally healed and good to mix with the rest of the citizens, they would move into the settlement site or go back to their community of origin if they could identify it..

Some family members oftentimes abandoned their siblings who had been admitted into the confinement camp. As a result, some of the lepers had lived there for too long and could not recognize their siblings anymore, or their community of origin. When they were finally cleansed, some would decide to move into houses at the settlement site, if they could not identify their communities or families, and or think they can’t support themselves back in their original homes.

The administration of the settlement provided free housing, food and basic necessities to the various families. Those of them who have learned a trade, mostly weaving, with the help of well wishers, had the opportunity to construct their own houses. They were however free to take provisions from the main settlement camp if need be. Their kids would rush there early in the morning before school and collect their share for the morning. They would do the same in the evening after school for the evening share.

It was interesting to learn how they were highly collaborative to the extent that they got married or inter-marry and brought forth very beautiful and healthy children. Though the kids looked poor because of the background of their parents, they were very happy and cute. It is always awesome to see how beautiful their offspring were and how healthy they grew. These beautiful and healthy children continue to live with their parents because they have no other place to go. The few who could identify some of their relatives went to visit or lived with them, or the relatives came for them.

On my first day in school, I noticed that most of the kids came to school barefooted. They ran and jumped around, playing amongst themselves happily. It was a surprise for me, coming from a city where school kids were more civilized. The bell went, it was time for mourning assembly. They all rushed to their various class areas and lined up.

During the morning devotions they usually sang a song or two, followed by prayers. The song they sang that morning touched me deeply and I shall never forget it. It was so meaningful, taking into consideration the background of the kids who were singing. They sang:

I was crying when I had no shoes.

I saw someone without legs,

I started asking, "Why should I be crying?

The Lord had given me joy in my heart.

They would clap and dance and enjoy the song. I was marveled at their faith. They taught me a great lesson on what happiness is. I learned from them that happiness is everywhere and it is not in riches. That it is far better to go barefooted than having no legs.


About the author


Education For All

Grade 1 Teacher (CAPIEMP)

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