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A better life for Michelle

Michelle 2400X745
MICHELLE, 32
RECIFE, PERNAMBUCO, BRAZIL
I was in the prime of my life. Every night after work I was out in the neighborhood. My husband was proud to have me as his wife. He was joking about it and told me that I was Brazil’s most beautiful woman. Until the moment I got leprosy. My husband left me and I was being chased out of the street. This is not the life I want.

I went to 20 different doctors’

Before I got leprosy I often went to the beach. Everything was great. I had a busy social life, a nice job and enough money to go out. Then I got all kinds of medical complaints in 2009. The feelings in my fingers declined, my lips started to swell and I often got a fever. Nobody knew what it was. Not my friends and neither did my doctors. Because it often felt like I was burned, I went to a lot of doctors. 20 doctors in total. But none of them could tell me where that feeling was coming from. Until I heard in 2012 in a special clinic — Santa Casa de Misericórdia — that it was leprosy. I received a yearlong treatment from the doctor and the advice not to talk to anyone. Then I would possibly lose all my friends.

He laughed at me and left’

The most terrible time of my life began. When I told my husband, he laughed at me and left. I never saw him again. My sister took me in her home because I was desperate.

Because of Leprosy I got a lot of injuries. Those became so bad that I had to be hospitalized at some point. There I spent 2 months alone. Nobody picked me up, even on my birthday. I still gives me chills when I remember that time. I was extremely depressed, I only wanted one thing … Death.

After I was fired from the hospital, I went back to my family. It got worse. I had to tell that I had leprosy and that I was treated. When they heard about that, they did not want to have anything to do with me. The people around me also turned their backs on me. Terrible!

My rescue

Fortunately, a doctor told me about a self-​help group. That was my rescue. I got answers to all my questions. At the same time, I found support in the church. I go there at least twice a week. Praying gives me strength and peace. In 2015 it turned around, I learned to love myself again.

Now I am ready to help others in the self-​help group. I give answers on questions that I previously had. A good feeling. Despite the misery I have experienced, I know I will go there again. My family will never see me again, but I do not want to die anymore. On the contrary, I see a bright future. It can only get better.

Michelle in her house BrazilMichelle in her house2 Brazil



Photography: Sasja van Vechgel

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