|Read the book, take the tour: tools for appreciating Sungai Buloh|
An international symposium on the preservation of heritage and the collective memories of communities affected by leprosy was held on 14 August 2015 at the National Leprosy Control Center at Sungai Buloh, Malaysia. Previously known as Sungai Buloh Settlement when it opened in 1930 as the largest leprosarium in the British Commonwealth and the second largest in the world, Sungai Buloh marked its 85th anniversary this August.
To commemorate the anniversary, Sungai Buloh Hospital is opening a gallery that will feature the lives of former patients and medical artifacts. A project of the Ministry of Health and the Department of National Heritage, the objective of the gallery is to tell the life stories of the patients, correct misperceptions about the disease and preserve the history of the settlement.
Sungai Buloh was also known as “The Valley of Hope” and a pictorial history book by that title has been published by Care & Share Circle, a group of volunteers who work with the remaining residents to tell their stories and eliminate prejudice and misunderstanding. The book, which was paid for by the Sungai Buloh Settlement Council, is a valuable record of the settlement’s 85-year history and its distinctive culture.
The one-day symposium heard presentations from Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan. It also gave participants the opportunity to go on a heritage tour of the settlement — the brainchild of the residents’ descendants. As Dr. Arturo C. Cunanan from the Philippines noted, “Entering the settlement is like walking into an open air museum.”