"It was on the 16th of May, 1946 that I received the information that I had leprosy. My mother started to cry and gave me powder so I could cover my face. It was a tragedy for the family. For three years I was in bed, sick in both spirit and body. I was 18 years old when they sent me here. On the 6th of June, I'll be 79...
Many have died, many came before me and many came after me....Write the truth."
-- Eufemia Him Dimitru, one of the last residents of Tichilesti, the last leprosy hospital in Romania. Excerpts from oral history conducted by anwei Law. Translation from Romanian by Jon Brodal and Violeta Basa.
photo by Henry Law
On July 21, 1950, I was brought to Suruga Sanatorium by the train which was separated from other cars. I remember that I arrived here at 3 o'clock. I was treated with Promin for six months and the disease was completely cured. I came here when I was 20 and now I am 76.
I was married but my wife passed away eight years ago. In 1954, my wife got pregnant but she was forced to get an abortion when in the third month. Many fetuses were sacrificed by the Leprosy Prevention Law. I took a picture of this child when it cam back to me before it was cremated. I put the photo beside my wife's photograph. I pray in front of them every day. I named my son "Takatsu."
My child must be happy if I tell this story to the people. If there are people who want to come here to listen to me, I speak about everything.
--Koji Kaneda, sharing his experience with representatives from IDEA and Ka 'Ohana O Kalaupapa. Translation from Japanese by Hiroe Soyagimi.
photo: Koji Kaneda in front of the memorial for his son and the other children.