Leadership Development at Damien House

This past week a group of Starfish students (Scholars and non-scholarship students) visited another organization here in Guayaquil as part of our Leadership Development (formally community service) program.

The organization we visited, Damien House, is a charitable hospital and clinic that transforms the lives of patients with Hansen’s Disease.  Hansen’s disease (formally known as leprosy) is now completely curable – but unfortunately it’s past stigma means that many patients are cast out of their families and society.  Damien House provides them with a place to live with dignity, and die with dignity.  Many younger patients who have undergone the treatment have now returned to their families and lead completely normal lives.  Damien House provides care to the patients, but also receives many groups like ours throughout the year in hopes to continue to the spread awareness about Hansen’s Disease.

Our students first received a tour and a talk about how the organization began, as well as a talk on what is Hansen’s.  Then we had a chance to spend the rest of the day with the patients, getting to know them and assisting in their daily lives.  In the men’s section the students were fascinated by one man who makes string bags, while another group of students spent hours playing dominos.

Gathered around, watching the master at work!

In the women’s section, the students spent a lot of time talking.  The patients loved hearing about Starfish, as much as we loved hearing about their lives.  This is important as many patients don’t receive a lot of visitors.  One lady was working on her bracelets, when Starfish Scholar Pamela shared that she also makes bracelets.  Pamela taught Esther how to make names with string on a pen while Esther showed her many new ways of bracelet making.

All in all it was a great day.  Due to the size of our group and the organization we’ve broken into 3 groups.  This Saturday it’s group number 2’s turn!

Joel, center in the Starfish shirt, was a great leader in starting conversation and really getting to know the patients!

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