By Winter Johnson
An accomplished podiatrist who recently received the Alf Morris Award for her work at the Village of HOPE, Alison Clark-Morris happily put on a chicken costume in early December and went shopping in Newbury as part of her latest fundraising efforts for the Village. At the time of publication, Alison has raised £1190 in preparation for her February 2023 trip to Delhi, which will allow her to purchase 10 tricycles for leprosy patients there. But her love for people with leprosy began long ago – when her mother would read her Bible stories as a little girl.
‘I would read the stories in the Bible, about how people with leprosy were so ostracized through no fault of their own,’ Alison said.
‘Then when I did my training and worked at the NHS with diabetic foot ulceration, I saw the link with how podiatrists could help with the foot problems caused by leprosy. I thought, “I am well-placed to be involved. I have the skills; I should put them to good use.’’’
Since 2017, she has visited the Village of HOPE four times, with February 2023 marking her fifth visit. During her visits to Delhi, she couldn’t help but notice the Village of HOPE’s vibrancy despite the struggles of its patients and residents. She laughed as she remembered parades and wedding celebrations breaking out near the bandaging unit. Most of all, she remembers the spirit of camaraderie within the Village, as people from all different faiths are united to help those suffering with leprosy.
After her first visit to the Village’s bandaging unit, she couldn’t forget what she saw. Many leprosy patients experience sensory neuropathy in their feet, so they cannot feel them. They cannot feel the heat from the fire or stove, so they are more vulnerable to burns. Neuropathy dries out the skin as well, leading to cracks on their heels and hands.
Even a small injury or even a pebble in their shoe can quickly become a major problem, leading to eventual loss of extremities due to infection. Says Alison, ‘Any micro injury to the skin is a portal for bacteria.’
India has 60 percent of the world’s leprosy cases, a fact that Alison couldn’t ignore. Over the years, she has provided education to staff and patients on the essentials of wound care, brought fellow podiatrists with her to Delhi, fundraised for tricycles, additional lighting, clinical trolleys, footwear and blankets, and introduced the Cliniko software system to track patient numbers and the progression of their healing. To date, she has raised approximately £15,000 for the Village of HOPE since 2017.
The Village of HOPE and HOPE worldwide are grateful for the continued partnership with Alison.
‘Alison has been like an angel for the Village of HOPE. Her support has enabled the bandaging centre to bring in the digital platform called Cliniko,’ said Apem Wungchipem, programme manager for the Village of HOPE.
‘And with her support, we have been able to provide tricycles and footwear to our patients. Such support brings a big relief and smile among the patients. Our patients wait for her visit because of her lovely service”.
Click to donate to the Village of HOPE.