The UN Country Team in South Sudan teams up with UNMISS peacekeepers from Bangladesh and China to hand over much-needed items to the under-funded Agok Leprosy Centre in Wau, Western Bahr El Ghazal. Image source: Alahayi Nemaya/UNMISS

Wau: UN family hands over necessary items to Agok Leprosy Centre

The United Nations staff serving in Wau, South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal State, handed over agricultural tools, medical supplies and personal items to the Agok Leprosy Centre.

The United Nations staff serving in Wau, South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal State, handed over agricultural tools, medical supplies and personal items to the Agok Leprosy Centre.

This week, the United Nations celebrates its 77th anniversary. The Organization’s staff serving in Wau used the occasion to give back to the communities they serve, specifically to the Agok Leprosy Centre.

The Centre suffers from an acute lack of support, funding and services, not least because those who contracted this disease are often stigmatized by their families and communities, but also due to repeated cycles of civil war and reductions in humanitarian aid budgets over the years.

To demonstrate care and build confidence, UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes teamed up with UNMISS peacekeepers from Bangladesh and China to hand over agricultural tools, medical supplies and personal items to the Centre.

This gesture by the UN family was welcomed by Christine Ali Gabriel, the state Minister for Gender, Child and Social Welfare.

“When UN representatives first approached me about this wonderful initiative, I almost couldn’t believe it since we have been trying to raise awareness about the Agok Leprosy Centre for a while now,” said Minister Gabriel.

“What the UN family has done for the people of this Centre goes beyond the material things they have given. This is life-changing, especially the medical supplies,” she added.

The Centre desperately needs to be refurbished, and the lack of funding has led to extreme neglect.

 “We are here today to show you that the UN family cares for everybody in this young nation,” stated Ater Thorn, a representative from the International Organization of Migration (IOM), during the handover on Monday.

“We stand in solidarity with the South Sudanese people and pledge to do our very best to help usher in peace, progress and development across this vibrant country,” he added.

“This handover is an effort to build hope and assure everyone at the Centre that they aren’t forgotten.”

And hope is exactly what the initiative brought to life.

“We needed blankets, clothes and a little bit of compassion to feel we are still part of our community, despite our disease,” said 65-year-old Angelina Marko, who was diagnosed with leprosy when she was merely two years old.

“Today, my heart is full of joy, and though my life has been hard, it is moments like this when we see our international well-wishers unite for us that makes it worth living.”