The Unconditional Appeal

In 2021, your incredible response to our Unconditional Appeal meant that £4.4 million, including £2 million from the UK government as part of its UK Aid Match scheme, was raised to support communities affected by leprosy in northern Mozambique. Two years on, we're delighted to share the next chapter of the story.

Cabo Deldago, northern Mozambique. The scenery is beautiful, the climate hot. Most people in the province live in poverty, eking out a living. Many rely on subsistence agriculture for their food and income.

The region regularly experiences devastating climate disasters. In 2021 Cyclone Idai destroyed homes, crops, and livelihoods. With no safety net to fall back on, families often went hungry. You might remember news reports about Cyclone Freddy, an extremely powerful storm that hit Mozambique earlier this year. The livelihoods that people had worked so hard to rebuild were once again ruined.  

People here are also living under the constant shadow of violence and conflict. In 2021, insurgency had already been a threat for years. Since then, armed men have killed thousands of civilians. Homes, schools, and health clinics have been burned to the ground. Nearly a million people have fled their homes, many of them not knowing if they would ever return.

The challenges people living in rural Cabo Delgado face are immense. But there’s one more. It’s hidden. People often aren’t aware of it, or fear the community’s reaction to it. It too can destroy people’s livelihoods, and push them even deeper into poverty.

The leprosy rates in Cabo Delgado are thought to be some of the highest across Africa.

More than half of Mozambicans must walk an hour or more to their nearest health clinic. Most medical centres are basic and have few staff, who are often over-stretched and in need of training. Without early diagnosis and treatment, many people affected by leprosy experiencing needless disability.

But in 2021, hope glimmered.  

Through our Unconditional Appeal, you helped launch an ambitious project to reach people affected by leprosy in Cabo Delgado. And with your generous donations matched by the UK government through its UK Aid Match scheme, you’ve had an incredible impact.

You partnered with some incredible Leprosy Changemakers and communities in Mozambique to build Hubs of Hope in the heart of rural communities.

And these hubs are more than just buildings.

Here, people are learning about leprosy and challenging the preconceptions about the disease that stop so many people living life to the full. People are learning new farming techniques, so they can lift themselves out of poverty even in the face of climate change.

Savings groups are also meeting at the hubs, supporting anyone who has a financial emergency and discovering how they can boost their income from crops. 

Item 1 of 2

1,312 people cured of leprosy thanks to your support

Eduardo's story

Eduardo is dedicated to his community. He’s a village leader, and takes his responsibilities seriously.

He recalled his memories of leprosy, as early as from his childhood. “Before, when people had this disease, they didn’t understand what it was," he told us.

When people saw discoloured patches of skin, the first symptom of leprosy, many would disregard them as burns or simple spots.

When the symptoms got worse, people would go to traditional healers. But without the antibiotics needed to cure the disease, they saw no improvement. Many older people affected by leprosy who Eduardo knows have permanent disabilities because they couldn’t get the cure in time.

Eduardo was the first person in his village to become a Leprosy Changemaker. He’s learned how to spot the symptoms of the disease. Now, when he thinks someone might have leprosy, he encourages them to visit the health centre. He reassures them that there is a cure, that treatment is available right there in their community.

“I am very thankful, because leprosy doesn’t create the harm it used to,” he said.

But Eduardo isn’t just stopping there. He’s passing down his knowledge to younger people in the community. “I am very proud of the legacy that I am going to leave. I know that other generations will continue this work”.

In Eduardo’s lifetime, the situation for people affected by leprosy has changed so much. Those affected by the disease are no longer confined to the shadows. And your support for the Unconditional Appeal has made sure that people like Eduardo will keep shining a light on the disease for years to come. 

Item 1 of 2

43 government health workers trained in leprosy awareness

Elisa's story

2 June 2022. A date that Clementina will remember forever. It was the day that insurgents descended on her village. Clementina, her husband, and their children fled for their lives, leaving everything they owned behind.

But an unexpected blessing came from this terrible day.

Clementina’s daughter, Elisa, is just five years old. Even before they had to flee, discoloured patches had begun to appear on her skin. There was no one in her old village to help her, and it took years for Clementina to find out Elisa had leprosy. 

In their new home, Clementina's husband asked Eduardo to look at Elisa’s symptoms. Straight away, Eduardo knew she needed to get the treatment for leprosy. He went with the family to the hospital, and now Elisa is taking the antibiotics that will cure her.   

“When we arrived here, we thanked God”, Clementina said. “Running away from the insurgents meant my daughter was diagnosed. I am grateful we found out she had leprosy. Now she will be fine”.  

While her devoted mother shielded her from violence, your generosity has restored Elisa’s health.

868 people affected by leprosy equipped with the knowledge to care for their hands and feet to prevent disability.

Florencio's story

Florencio is at the heart of the community transformation taking place through the Hubs of Hope.

After he was diagnosed with leprosy, Florencio joined a savings group. As part of these groups, people like Florencio are learning strategies to market their crops and boost their income.

“I was able to reopen my business and invest in a plot of land. The crops will help me when harvest time comes”.

Now, Florencio helps to organise and train these groups. Alongside saving together, members also support anyone who has a financial emergency. There’s a real sense of community in all they do.  

Florencio also works with farming groups, where people learn new techniques to protect their crops from the brunt of climate change. Extreme weather events that destroy crops and livelihoods are becoming ever more frequent in Northern Mozambique. What’s more, people affected by leprosy are some of the most vulnerable to climate change in the world.

Your support is helping people to be resilient in the face of crises. And Florencio has already seen the impact.

“We are learning new techniques that are improving our life a lot. We are very grateful, because many things are already changing”.

Item 1 of 2

1,982 people are participating in savings groups and boosting their livelihoods

Across Cabo Delgado, your kindness and prayers are helping people like Eduardo, Clementina, and Florencio build a better future for themselves and their families.

Thank you for your unconditional love for people affected by leprosy!

Item 1 of 2

Photographs © Ricardo Franco