An Interview With Carlos
How has Hansen's impacted your life?
I lived in a little town. I was with my family, I was seven years old. Then I started having some spots all over my body and I didn't have any feeling. And so they brought me here to Guyaquil to be seen. My cousin brought me here to a dermatology hospital. And when they saw my case, they referred me to Damien House. There was no other child here, just adults. It was really hard for me to stay. I didn't eat for two days. When I arrived here, my hands were completely contracted. They gave me an IV treatment, and my hands relaxed a little bit. The food was awful. There wasn't medicine. There weren't beds, we slept on nasty mattresses on the floor. Since then, Sister Annie bought beds, mattresses, medicine from the United States. She made the foundation that cares for us now.
After three months I went back home to my house in the country. So I left and I was afraid to ever come back here, but at age 12, I got an ulcer in my foot, so they had to bring me back. I had gotten worse and worse and I couldn't work, so I decided to come back here. It was just about that time that I returned here that Sister Annie arrived. Then things really started to get better. Before, nobody really cared.
After they cured me of the ulcer then I stayed in Guayaquil, I had a job with a person that painted furniture. I got married at 16. Then my leg got worse. They advised me to amputate it and I didn't want to because I was supporting my wife and my family back in my hometown so I resisted. Finally at age 28, the ulcers had been so persistent that I decided I had no choice but to amputate. Thank God that help came from the United States to help me with a surgery and a prosthetic leg. Now I feel fine with my artificial leg, I can work. I really thank the people of the United States that helped and also the Damien House foundation.
Monday to Friday I work as a guard here for Damien House. And on my two free days, I work at home making crosses (necklaces) to help support Damien House. I sell the crosses to people who come to visit and that helps support Damien House.
When groups come from the States to visit, Sister Annie often asks me to give my testimony because I know this disease very well; I've had it since I was a little boy. I give thanks that God has given me a sound mind, and I don't see any reason to feel sad. I think that a person has to go on and find joy in life. There are some patients here who have lost a leg and they've become bitter and depressed. And I've tried to be a counselor for them to tell them you have no reason to be like that, you have to keep going. And I ask my God every day to bless all the patients here and also all the people who come here to offer their help, and also their families and their children. And thanks to God and the help of the people who have supported Damien House, we are doing well.