VANISHING EXISTENCE

China

2007

Though Leprosy is an old disease that is now 100% curable by medicines and that merely affects nowadays, there are over 600 leprosy villages in southern provinces of China, housing over 40,000 ex-leprosy patients. In the villages, some people are partly disable, they are not leprosy patients anymore. They have been cured of the desiase. When muti-drug therapy became available in China in the 80’s, leprosy patients were cured.

However, these people are still in those villages, usually isolated in remote areas because of the long-lasting discrimination against the ex-leprosy patients. In many villages, people do not have access to clean water and electricity, and live in very difficult conditions. However, the government gives them between 0 to 50 U.S.dollars a month as compensation. The economic situation of these villages is similar to the one in poor farming villages which are left behind and ignored in recent China’s economic growth. However, thengs are even tougher in those villages, since the villagers are disable due to leprosy, and the average age is over 60 years old.

In China, recent visible economic growth improved the living standards in the cities, but the rural areas are left behind. It is said that the villages will have disappeared in 10 to 20 years, since the villagers are getting older and will pass away. However, the existence of these ex-leprosy patients is being vanished as if no people had been suffering from discrimination in the course of history.

This is the photo story of the daily life of the ex-leprosy patients who actually exist in the shadow of China’s recent economic boom.