THE LEPERS OF BAN SOMSANOUK (LAOS)

The village of Ban Somsanouk is located a hundred kilometers north of Vientiane, in the district of Vangvieng. It is in these hills that the village was established in 1964 by French clergymen in order to accommodate the the area’s lepers and their families. It was formed, an exceptional event in Laos, by several ethnic groups who all had lepers in their families. This disease is now under control, but the after-math still affects 20% of the population. The original purpose of the village made it a victim of abandonment by the government, but for the last twenty years, a sustainable development project focused on the village and its region has emerged from oblivion. The COPE organization also plays a role in reintegration. In fact, thanks to the donations it receives, prosthetic legs can be created for leper amputees, therefore giving them some mobility despite the exclusion that they all face on a daily basis.