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Picture of Jeremiah N'gwane with his guitar Picture of Jeremiah N'gwane with his guitar

Real Life History: World Wellbeing Week

24 June 2021

World Wellbeing Week shines a light on all aspects of our wellbeing; social, physical, emotional, community and environmental. During these challenging times, it’s more important than ever for us to reflect upon and recognise the importance of our wellbeing as individuals and as a community.

Wellbeing for all
Lepra has always been at the forefront of medical advances in the treatment of leprosy and lymphatic filariasis (LF). Since our foundation in 1924, our ethos has been to care for the whole person – not merely the physical symptoms of the disease - but full wellbeing too. We purposely foster strong relationships with people affected by leprosy in order to nurture a real change in their lives and in their community. We are proud that through our work we help people affected by leprosy and LF feel comfortable, healthy, happy and, with more social interaction, are fully active in their communities.

Looking back through our archives, we often discover how, during the bleakest of times, people affected with leprosy face significant hardship, discrimination and prejudice. We also find glimmers of hope through heart-warming stories of love, laughter and community spirit. In Lepra News, Autumn 2020, we told the story of Isaac and Elfrida who found love and, following their treatment for leprosy, were married. We have also previously met Ikoli Harcourt Whyte who, whilst living in a leprosy settlement in Nigeria in the 1930s, thrived as a world-renowned composer of choral music and who continued with his choir and composing music long after he had successfully completed his treatment.

Music for Wellbeing
Music can play a big part in wellbeing. For many people, playing an instrument is a livelihood as well as a tool for pleasure. In the July 1953 issue of BELRA Quarterly, Jeremiah N’gwane featured on the front cover with his guitar. Jeremiah was a young boy from Nigeria, who when diagnosed with leprosy started his treatment living away from his family. The support from Lepra workers, nurses, doctors and teachers formed a new community for Jeremiah; he had new schoolmates and made new friends. Through his musical talent, Jeremiah forged new friendships and he brought much joy to his community. We later learn that Jeremiah, having successfully completed his treatment, was invited to work with Lepra and continued to play his music until he was able to pursue further studies, learning the guitar, in Lagos. Jeremiah’s story tells us that there is so much more to each and every journey for people affected by leprosy. Finding comfort through music, art, or any activity, can only enhance wellbeing not only for an individual but for the whole community alike.

Today at Lepra, we work to support and improve livelihoods for all people affected by leprosy. Our principles of prevention, treatment and follow-up enable us work with individuals and communities alike, ensuring we offer assistance to all who need our help.