Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a shift in the demographics in the community we serve. We have noticed increasingly more aging adults living with leprosy.
When anyone contracts leprosy, it is very heartbreaking because they are often shunned by everyone and outcast from the community. When a senior citizen contracts leprosy it is particularly heartbreaking because they are already vulnerable due to their age and often alone to begin with—potentially having even less support from family or friends. Many seniors are also living in undesirable conditions and without anyone to help them get the treatment or support that they need.
As they reach the end of their lives, many fortunately find themselves in our hospice center, where they are finally treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Our goal at Embrace the Village is to not just meet their physical needs, but to care for their minds and spirits too. Our hospice center is founded on the example Jesus gave us in Matthew 25:
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”
Our hospice center is located in Coimbatore, a city in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu—where our ministry focuses its efforts. Construction on the hospice care center started back in 2008 and was officially opened in 2009. We created this facility with the intention of serving patients of all ages. We wanted people diagnosed with leprosy to have a place to live out their final days in comfort and peace. And most importantly we wanted them to be a place where they felt truly loved.
Along with its many misconceptions, Leprosy is often seen as a total death sentence. We thought this as well, however Incredibly, we found with the proper medical care, nutrition, and prayer, many of our patients got better and often made full recoveries. Because of these miracles, we created a rehab center where many of our younger recovered patients go to live and work on our sustainable farms and participate in giving back to the ministry.
The hospice care center, like most in the US, has now become a center focused on caring for the elderly. There is great need in this community for a safe and compassionate place for aging adults to get the care that they need.
Embrace a Village’s hospice center can currently care for 44 patients and we are currently working on an expansion to serve even more patients. When the construction is complete, we will be able to comfort and care for 60 residents. This will be an incredible opportunity and we are absolutely delighted.
Many older adults have spent their lives devoted to serving others, and then find themselves alone when it’s their turn for help, especially those diagnosed with leprosy. When seniors enter our hospice care, we strive to truly know them, to hear their stories and their struggles, and to remind them their life is meaningful. Our expanded hospice center will give us the space and resources to serve the most vulnerable members of the community—the ones who have given so much of themselves throughout their lives.
Sharing the Gospel with our patients has always been at the center of our ministry’s purpose and goals. Many of our hospice patients hear about Jesus for the first time while they are in our care. We have been able to lead so many patients as they choose to accept Jesus into their heart for the first time at the end of their life. This is beautiful to witness and truly the heart and soul of our ministry.
As we serve the elders of the community, we see living with leprosy in a whole new perspective. These older adults have lived through a time when leprosy was seen as dirty and divisive, a disease that caused shame and isolation. They have lived through the slow, steady shift in cultural attitudes towards leprosy, and are getting a glimpse at a world where a life with leprosy can be full of hope.
This gives us hope. This reminds us that God’s timing is perfect, and we are excited to see how He continues to work in the lives of children, teens, adults, and seniors living with leprosy.
If you want to learn more about how we serve the most vulnerable people in these communities and how you can help, click here.