Giving back, building hope: UN family hands over necessary items to Agok Leprosy Centre

UNMISS bangladesh china peacekeepers UN Country Team UNHCR IOM Wau leprosy south sudan peacekeeping peacekeepers hope

Here is a story of hope, of impact, of care and of kindness - the UN Country Team in South Sudan teams up with UNMISS peacekeepers from Bangladesh and China to hand over much-needed items to the under-funded Agok Leprosy Centre in Wau, Western Bahr El Ghazal. Photo by Alahayi Nemaya/UNMISS

27 Oct 2022

Giving back, building hope: UN family hands over necessary items to Agok Leprosy Centre

Alahayi Nemaya

WESTERN BAHR EL GHAZAL:  As the United Nations celebrates its 77th anniversary this week, the Organization’s staff serving in Wau, South Sudan, decided to use the occasion to give back to the communities they serve, specifically, to the Agok Leprosy Centre.

The Centre suffers from an acute lack of support, funding and services, not least because those who contracted this disease are often stigmatized by their families and communities, but also due to repeated cycles of civil war and reductions in humanitarian aid budgets over the years.

To demonstrate care and build confidence, UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes teamed up with UNMISS peacekeepers from Bangladesh and China, to hand over agricultural tools, medical supplies and personal items to the Centre.

This gesture by the UN family was welcomed by Christine Ali Gabriel, the state Minister for Gender, Child and Social Welfare.

“When UN representatives first approached me about this wonderful initiative, I almost couldn’t believe it since we have been trying to raise awareness about the Agok Leprosy Centre for a while now,” reveals Minister Gabriel.

“What the UN family has done for the people of this Centre goes beyond the material things they have given. This is life-changing, especially the medical supplies,” she adds.

The Centre desperately needs to be refurbished and lack of funding has led to extreme neglect.

But on 24 October, there were smiles all around as committed UN staffers and peacekeepers pooled personal and organizational resources to lend a much-needed helping hand.

“We are here today to show you that the UN family cares for everybody in this young nation,” stated Ater Thorn, a representative from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) during the handover.

“We stand in solidarity with the South Sudanese people and pledge to do our very best to help usher in peace, progress and development across this vibrant country,” he added.

“This handover is an effort to build hope and assure everyone at the Centre that they aren’t forgotten.”

And hope is exactly what the initiative brought to life.

“We needed blankets, clothes and a little bit of compassion to feel we are still part of our community, despite our disease,” said 65-year-old Angelina Marko, who was diagnosed with leprosy when she was merely two years old.

“Today my heart is full of joy and though my life has been hard, it is moments like this when we see our international well-wishers unite for us, that makes it worth living.”