Photos by Stella Gooch
On 24 January 2011, Dersingham Cubs were visited by a local lady, Veronica Welham, who voluntarily helped raise funds for The Leprosy Mission. Veronica explained to the children about the difficulties that a person suffering from Leprosy had to live with. She explained the disease was prevalent in countries where the people faced other difficulties such as starvation.
To demonstrate more meaningfully to the children what it meant to suffer from Leprosy, volunteer “Lepers” were requested to role play in a short story and Jamie was told he would be the person who could read and write and Callum was to look after the goats. Then Veronica explained how first they would catch a cold and then a white patch would appear on a hand or leg. It would feel hard and numb to touch but would not hurt so the afflicted person would be able to continue their every day lives as normal.
Young Callum got better as his wife took him to a hospital where tablets were supplied to him for six months after which he was back to full health. Unfortunately, poor Jamie’s patch did not improve. In fact the number of patches increased and one day he could not feel his hand. Jamie then goes to the local witch doctor and is given a smelly green ointment. This does not cure anything and in fact makes matters worse as Jamie now cannot feel at all. The disease had attacked all his nerve endings and eventually the nerve endings died off and the hand became gnarled. Then his foot cannot be used to walk on properly – in fact he is dragging it along. At this point, Jamie is beyond a cure but if he received appropriate medication now this would prevent the problem worsening further.
The volunteers then rejoined their friends and Veronica explained that Leprosy can also settle in your face and even affect your eyes and make you blind. She also pointed out to the children that the poor Lepers would also have to endure being outcast from their community and family environments where they were left with no choice but to beg to survive as best they could on their own.
Having enjoyed this very eye opening talk – even I learned a thing or two I had been unaware of – Veronica then explained to the children that collecting stamps could raise the money needed to help support the work of The Leprosy Mission whose task it was to try and eradicate the suffering caused by this awful disease of biblical times.
Veronica said that demand for all types of stamps was now very high - even the most common ones. She explained that the stamps needed to be trimmed leaving ¼ “border of paper around the edges. After a brief demonstration the Dersingham Cubs broke away into small groups and started sorting and trimming loads of stamps to do their bit for their Community Badge and help The Leprosy Mission at the same time.
This type of support is growing throughout our local villages and Veronica and the other local support workers hope that Dersingham can help too. Just start collecting stamps from your post (leaving 1leaving ¼“ border of paper around the edges of course) and ensure they get to the right place. Locally, you can leave donations of used postage stamps at:
Dersingham Scout Hut; or
Peter Sutton estate agent in Post Office Road.
If you are a local business and would like to be a collection point for stamps for this worthy cause please contact Veronica at 01485 532812 or email her at: email@example.com.