China’s Leper Colonies Await Homecoming
DAJIN ISLAND, China — For the past half-century, Huang Shaokuan prayed daily for spiritual support as she coped with the disease that took her lower legs and all her fingers. This year, she added an urgent request.
“I pray that God will help us move quickly back to the mainland,” says Huang, 84. “I want to see my family again.”
Banished decades ago to the Dajin Island leper colony in the South China Sea, Huang and her fellow leprosy victims, all cured but disfigured, have buried hundreds of friends over the years. The last 45 survivors wait for God, and the Chinese government, to speed their return to a country that has changed beyond all recognition but retains fear and prejudice about leprosy.