Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, originally comes from the Greek word “lépra“, and refers to a bacterial disease in which the skin peels off and separates together with large chunks of meat from various parts of a human body. It causes painful deformities and leads to total mutilation of the affected areas. People lack arms and legs and often hope.

Punishment in the form of social isolation

In the past, the diagnosis of Leprosy often meant a life sentence for those affected. This disease was considered as divine punishment at that time. People afflicted with it were basically stripped of all their human rights and taken away from their families and concentrated in the so-called Leprosariums.

Some were situated in the mountains, others in remote places to make sure the isolation was secured.

The last leper colony is located in Romania

Let’s look at the Romanian colony of Tichilesti, the last functioning Leprosarium in Europe.

At the end of the seemingly idyllic little village, there are peeling white walls of buildings that belong to the Tichilesti colony, where probably none of us would like to become permanent resident.

Even in the ’90s of the last century, you would not find a flushing toilet or running shower here. In the middle of the settlement, where used to be only an old monastery, is a furnace for used bandages which is constantly burning. Each small room has its own entrance, which can hardly fit anything other than a bed.

The Communists decided: “Leprosy does not exist! “

In the 2Oth century during the Dark Times of Communism, Tichilesti was an ideal place to hide lepers thanks to its isolated location. And guarded in secrecy. The disabled were sent to the camps and were officially listed as dead. Those who did not come voluntarily were imported by the authorities.

The military security was lifted from settlements in 1991. Thanks to increased media coverage, the Lepers could feel like people once again since 2000.

Author: Kris Herry