People affected by leprosy are often described as "voiceless," having been left out of official histories. Anwei Skinsnes Law, the International Coordinator of IDEA, begs to differ. In a speech at National Sanatorium Tama Zenshoen during a recent visit to Japan, she cited letters, books, poetry and artwork, not to mention the venerable Star newspaper started by Stanley Stein at Carville Leprosarium, as evidence to the contrary.
IDEA, the International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement, is also making sure that voices get heard through its oral history project. To date, IDEA has recorded the stories of around 200 individuals in 35 countries in 20 languages, she said.
IDEA is particularly concerned with the older generation of people affected by leprosy and ensuring they earn their rightful place in history. "I believe there is so much to learn from the older generation," Law told her audience. "Their wisdom and friendship are a blessing for us all."