I am Jiang Zongfu, 82 years old, from Guan Jia Ping Zi Home for Leprosy Rehabilitation in Huidong. I also have a brother. Other than my hearing problem, I still have a healthy body. I have 2 sons and 1 daughter, they all have their old family; I also have grandchildren. The living environment in the Home has been improved a lot, there are people taking care of our meals, we also get some small subsidy from the government that is good enough to cover our daily needs. The government will also take care of my funeral when I pass away. I can also go back to my home to visit the “strangers” – family from time to time, they also care about me. One of my grandchildren is going to get married this year, they invited me to the wedding. I decided not to go as I did not want to add extra burden on them, they also have their own economic issue. My grandchild promised to bring his newly-wed wife to visit me.
Life had never been easy for me in the past, it was not the life for human being. I married a girl from the same village in 1956 when I was 20. I made some new clothes for her and had a simple wedding banquet at home. We had two sons but we were so poor that both of our sons died. I got a job from the production brigade from our village to make charcoal that I had a stable income so that I could support another 2 sons and my daughter. We had a healthy family though life was not easy.
I found plaque, swollen on my skin; I could not sweat and my skin was as rough as skin of trees. I even had no feeling, other people told me that I might have got leprosy. I was terrified so that I went to the county hospital for a detailed checked. They sent my blood to Chengdu for diagnosis. Doctors in the hospital was so scared that they did not even charge the medical fees. I felt desperate and hopeless when I left the hospital. I wanted to jump from the bridge, but my brother grabbed and saved my life. He said, “you still have wife and children, you have to look forward; how can they live without you?” Villagers from the same production brigade looked down on me, they tried to escape from me. Later, they asked me to move out of the village and I then lived in the abandoned brick kiln for 2 years, and never went back home as I was afraid that I might transmit my family and the stigma from the public.
My brother came to me 2 years later in 1973 that the officer from the township government told him that I could move to the rehabilitation home for leprosy patient in Huidong. I then walked to the home with some potatoes and fried wheat flour. It took me three days to get to the home, I slept in the ravine on my way. When I arrived at the home, it snowed heavily. I paid RMB69 to the management staff of the home when I got there, they offered me a room and a job to shepherd the goats. I lived in the home for 10 years, and my wife could not support the life of herself and the children as she did not have any working skill. She then remarried and one of the sons followed her to live with her new husband. My brother had taken care of my daughter and other son for 10 years until I moved back from the home in Huidong.
When I got back home, I was given some land and lived on the dam for 5 years. When My son and daughter got married, I moved back to the rehab home in Huidong as the economic condition of my children could not afford me living with them. Other PALs could not understand why did I move back to the rehab home, as there were too many elderly PALs, there were not enough people to take care of them. We had to overcome all the problems by ourselves.