[財団ブログ ― ハンセン病]
Reconnecting Families Affected by Leprosy

Care and Share Circle is a group of volunteers that is recording the life stories of people affected by leprosy in Malaysia and helping to restore family ties that were severed by the disease. Led by journalist and author Eannee Tan, the group’s activities center on the former Sungai Buloh leprosy settlement outside Kuala Lumpur.
Sungai Buloh was officially established in 1930 during British colonial times, becoming the second largest colony in the world. With new cases of the disease no longer quarantined from 1969, Sungai Buloh today is lived in by an aging and fast-declining population of around 200 people affected by leprosy who have long called the settlement home.
In times past, married couples who gave birth at Sungai Buloh were not allowed to keep their baby. If they were unable to find relatives or friends willing to care for the child, then the authorities would search for a suitable home. When an adoptive family was found, the biological parents were asked to sign a letter of consent giving up custody.
For many elderly residents of the settlement today, their greatest sorrow as they draw near the end of their lives is not being able to see their children. Equally, among the children given up for adoption, there are those who are eager to trace their roots and be reunited with their biological parents.
Eannee and the other volunteers help parents and children reconnect by combing the archives for birth certificates and other records. They also arrange for DNA tests when they suspect a family connection but the paperwork that would confirm this is incomplete or missing.
A record of their endeavors – and some of the moving stories that have resulted – can be seen on a website called The Way Home (http://www.thewayhome.my/) Begun by the Care and Share Circle, it tells the history of the Sungai Buloh lleprosy settlement, documents the life stories of residents and features accounts of the emotional reunions of parents and long-separated children. It also features an online museum of photos, artifacts, documents and more.
Eannee and the volunteers say they hope the website will encourage the “second generation” to get to know the emotional world of their parents and prompt more to come back and trace their roots while their parents are still alive. “In the end, we hope to empower them with knowledge and courage to preserve their own family history.”
The Way Home is a journey, and the journey continues.
old-lady-with-love.jpg
This is a picture Noraeni. Born of ethnic Chinese parents at Sungai Buloh leprosarium, she was adopted soon after birth by a Malay family. Her reunion with her biological mother could only come at her mother’s graveside. “I want to tell the entire world that there are many residents in Sungai Buloh who are waiting for their children’s return,” she says. “Even if they are unable to live together, they just want to see their children’s faces. We need help from all quarters to fulfill the dreams of these people.”