Projects in the Time of Corona

Cautious optimism is spreading in Germany: Some of the protective measures against the spread of the coronavirus are being eased. We are regaining leeway – yet prudence and above all consideration remain paramount! Practised solidarity means to continue keeping your distance, to act wisely, and above all to show consideration! And exactly this is being done in the projects of the Order of St. Lazarus: Our partners are using all their energy to continue supporting those in greatest need. This is currently more challenging than ever: Lockdowns hamper the supply of food and hygiene products. This makes it all the more important for the members of the Grand Bailiwick to set examples, because the concern for the weak, the old and the sick remains.

Bolivia: Cleft palates

For more than 30 years, the Stiftung Hilfswerk Deutscher Zahnärzte (German Dentists’ Relief Foundation), for short HDZ, has been associated with the Grand Bailiwick of Germany of the Order of St. Lazarus. The majority of the members of the Board of Trustees of this Foundation are members of the Order. In Bolivia, for example, they support surgery for cleft palates by providing funding. During the coronavirus pandemic, the local surgeons may perform only surgeries that are classified as emergencies. Since some infants with these malformations suffer from breathing problems as well, now only these children may be operated on. The majority of patients must be put off indefinitely. The number of untreated people is rising steadily; the need for help is great. There are only few surgeons in Bolivia who can do surgery on cleft palates lege artis. With a donation of
€ 10,000 to Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe e.V., cleft children in Bolivia can be helped this year as well. In the past year, 37 surgeries were thus financed.

Fig. 1: Before surgery                                                                    Fig. 2: After surgery
Photos: Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe e.V.


China: Leprosy

Before the generalised coronavirus outbreak, when the situation in Wǔhàn was already critical, our project partners in the village of Ngaisai, near Guǎngdōng, were still providing special leprosy wound treatment. From the beginning (!) of January 2020 on, this was no longer possible. Foreigners had to meet special requirements during this period. They were no longer allowed to leave their village, and in the meantime they devoted themselves to other tasks. They tested new materials for specially made shoes and prostheses for leprosy patients, carried out maintenance work in the leprosy workshop and at water sources, and renovated kitchens, roads and paths. Necessary additional hygiene equipment in this time of coronavirus could be procured only through our donations. (€ 5,000)

Fig. 3: Funded prostheses workshop Fig. 4: Fitting prostheses
Photos: HDZ

India: Leprosy (1)
The situation in Maharashtra State is characterised by the highest number of Covid-19-positive cases, approaching five thousand. The situation in the capital Mumbai is extremely worrisome. With its slums, the most tightly packed ones in Asia, in particular the Dharavi slum, the megalopolis of Mumbai has become a hotspot of the corona pandemic in India. Since the end of March, strict measures have been in place – as will soon be everywhere in India – to limit the spread of the virus. A curfew was imposed on 1.3 billion (!) Indian citizens. The treatment services of the Bombay Leprosy Project (BLP) were nevertheless continued by the leprosy centre initiated and supported by the Grand Bailiwick of Germany, in order to prevent interruption of the leprosy treatments as far as possible. With € 5,000 we helped to improve the hygiene measures.

Fig. 5: Slum in Mumbai


India: Leprosy (2)

The partners of the Order of St. Lazarus, led by Dr. Remy Luc Rousselot, leprosy expert in Bhuvanēśvar, in the state Odisha in the east of India, predict a gloomy future. They fear that India is “sitting on a time bomb”, without knowing when the full explosion will take place. They are aware of the disastrous consequences. As the testing level in India is one of the lowest in the world, it is not certain whether the current statistics reflect the true picture of the situation. But one thing is certain: If Phase 3 were to strike the Indian population of 1.3 billion, the public authorities would have to count the numbers of victims and deaths not in thousands or hundreds of thousands but in millions, due to the poor infrastructure in hospitals and the lack of specialists in intensive care units. Although the Indian government is doing a very good job of delaying the arrival of the “tsunami”, the estimates are really frightening.
Here, too, the HDZ, in cooperation with the Order of St. Lazarus, has provided € 5,000 in emergency aid for the purchase of hygiene articles and food.

Fig. 6: Freshly amputated leprosy foot           Fig. 7 left to right: Dr. Kama, Dr. Remy Luc Rousselot, Helga and Klaus Winter
Photos: HDZ

Kenya: Hospital

Covid-19 cases reported by the Ministry of Health in Kenya had increased to 435 by 30-APR-2020. 61% of the transmissions are local, and only 39% imported; of these, about 70% are asymptomatic and 30% symptomatic infections. Because of the concern that the high percentage of people without symptoms would facilitate the further spread of the disease, the requirements are being strictly complied with. The government has instructed the hospitals to expand the isolation and intensive care units as a precautionary measure. However, this also means that other patients are more likely to stay at home and present only in case of emergency.
Fewer patient numbers mean less income for the daily operation of the St. Matia Mulumba Mission Hospital in Thika. The hospital, expanded with HDZ funds in recent years, has once more received donations from us in order to be able to purchase additional protective equipment for the hospital staff during the coronavirus period.

Fig. 8: Dental Station St. Mulumba Hospital
Photo: Consœur Bernadette

Germany: unaccompanied underage migrants and protective clothing

From mid-March on, the association Ausbildung statt Abschiebung (AsA) – the name meaning “Education instead of deportation” – in Bonn also had to keep its doors closed in order to protect the health of the youths, volunteers and employees. Nevertheless, the top priority remains: to accompany all of the 186 registered underage refugees to the best of our abilities via telephone calls with and without video, chats and other social media. A large proportion of these are connected via digital learning formats, especially since quite a few are about to take an examination – for the school leaving certificate or the completion of vocational qualification. “Education instead of deportation” is a  humanitarian imperative and has been financially supported by us for many years. The selfless commitment of the brethren and sisters of the Commandery of the
Rhineland of the Grand Bailiwick of Germany is also to be emphasised. They manufactured over 100 sets of protective clothing for hospital staff at various
hospitals in the city of Düsseldorf to bridge the initial supply shortage.

Fig. 9: Visit of Dr. Winter to AsA e.V. Bonn
Photos: HDZ

Fig. 10: Awarding of the certificates


Chev.Dr. Klaus Winter GCLJ, Leprosy – Chev. Dr. Klaus-Achim Sürmann, KCLJ, Hospitaller
Order of St. Lazarus, Grand Bailiwick of Germany
(Translated by Chev. Dr.Dr. Rüdiger Marcus Flaig KLJ)

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