Listen to this story
The retired Catholic priest of Christ the King Catholic Church in Accra-Ghana, Father Andrew Campbell founded and established the Weija Leprosarium in 1993. The Irish-Ghanaian priest also plays a major part in taking care of the leprosariums found in Ho, Ankaful, Upper West, Nkanchina and Kokofu.
Father Andrew Campbell is also the founder of Lepers Aid Committee which is an NGO that supports their care.
The leprosarium was established mainly for healed lepers and to serve as a haven for them against the stigmatization of people, which makes it more like a rehabilitation center. Leprosy, also known as Hansen disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by the micro bacteria leprae.
Symptoms usually occur between one to 20 years of contracting the disease or more. The chronic yet curable disease affects the nerves, skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract. According to the World Health Organization, 127,558 new leprosy cases were detected in 138 countries globally as of 2020.
Ghanaian leprosy cases were at 260 as of 2020. The leprosarium focuses mainly on cured lepers and how they are treated.
Father Campbell and the Lepers Aid Committee provide financial assistance to those who are willing to learn new trades and skills.
The committee consists of volunteers who are dedicated to helping raise funds for the upkeep of the cured lepers. Once healed, those receiving care at the leprosarium are allowed, visitors. They are also allowed to visit their families outside of the facility. The stigmatization however makes it difficult to permanently leave the leprosarium–although there are cases of some people who have left the facility indefinitely.
Father Campbell often says that ”leprosy is a disease, many run away from” because of how it is transmitted (via droplets, from the nose and mouth, and during close and frequent contact with untreated cases.) However, he urges the community not to marginalize or stigmatize these vulnerable members of society. He says he is committed to “creating a haven” for them.
Father Campbell has used his position and influence to encourage the country’s vice president to host his facility’s healed lepers at his residence on a number of occasions. He has also worked hard to get other organizations to provide much-need services to the Weija Leprosarium.