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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

GLOBAL APPEAL 2009 : 'Honored to Be Part of the Struggle'

Messages of support form central part of Global Appeal 2009 event.

As part of the Global Appeal 2009 launch event, messages of support from religious leaders and groups were read out during the ceremony. Here are some edited excerpts.

Leprosy is just like any other illnesses. It has its causes. Our task is to eliminate the causes of the illness, not to look at it as if it is the curse of God.

- His Eminence K.H. Sahal Mahfud, Chairman,
Indonesian Council of Ulamas

People affected by leprosy must be given physical relief, but providing human warmth and a sense of value are equally important. I pray this Global Appeal will encourage a greater awareness that real care of the sick does not begin with drugs and medication, but with the simple gift of affection and love.

- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Disease can strike the most powerful as well as the most vulnerable. The challenge to combat all disease - in our particular case, the disease of leprosy- is a challenge for all humanity. Judaism teaches us, on the basis of the Bible, to see healing as a Divine process; and to see people who facilitate healing as Divine emissaries. May this Appeal and all who work for its fulfillment succeed in their Divine mandate to provide healing for the body and the spirit.

- His Eminence Rabbi Yona Metzger,
The Chief Rabbi of Israel

I feel greatly honored to be part of the struggle against one of the world's oldest and most feared diseases. My endorsing and signing of Global Appeal 2009 is a sign of the Catholic Church's commitment to the alleviation of human suffering and the promotion of the rights and God-given dignity of every individual.

- Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, President,
Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care

May this Appeal remind the world that the highest reaches of public health and well-being that societies can achieve are based on the firm foundation that the most vulnerable person in each society has access to dignity, respect, love and wholehearted service.

- Reverend Dr. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary,
World Council of Churches

In January 2002, I was part of a delegation that visited a leprosy colony at Tahirpur on the outskirts of Delhi. I made a point of meeting as many families as possible. One woman I met said to me, "Thank you very much for coming to my home and sharing a cup of tea with us. You are the only 'normal' person who has done this." The fact that she thought of me as being any more normal than her brought a tear to my eyes. She went on to tell me that everyone within the colony was shunned by society and she prayed for the day when her family would be treated normally with respect, honor and dignity. We must all support the aims and objectives of the Global Appeal in order to achieve the goal of bringing people affected by leprosy into mainstream society.

- Sanjay Jagaita, Secretary-General, National
Council of Hindu Temples UK

I welcome the opportunity to remind ourselves of individuals and communities in lands across the globe who live with the scourge of leprosy in the 21st century. In addition to the physical effects of the disease, sufferers also experience social exclusion, vulnerability, and poverty, and the Global Appeal will bring a new focus to their plight.

- The Most Reverend Archbishop of Canterbury,
Dr. Rowan Williams

We have to work hard to help people rejected by society develop a sense of self-esteem. They need to be shown compassion. In Iraq, we promise that we will do more to help people with leprosy go back into society. This will be done by increasing resources to treat patients and educating the community to change their views toward the ones who contracted the disease for no sin they committed.

- Dr. Bayan Alaraji, Representative of
the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq

It is my sincere hope that those who suffer from leprosy, and from the discrimination caused by society's lack of understanding of the disease, will be free from their suffering and be able to live contentedly with their families. I believe that religions, which offer spiritual support to people around the world, have an important role to play and the power to make this happen.

- The Most Venerable Yukei Matsunaga,
President, Japan Buddhist Federation

I am delighted to support this Global Appeal. The effect can only be that the human rights of those affected will be respected and strengthened.

- His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of
Thyateira and Great Britain