Leonid Lecca

Published on Monday, 10 October 2016

“He was tied, his back was destroyed and he had not drunk water for four days”

In the world, about 50 out of 100 TB cases were successfully treated. The figure increased to 85 thanks to you.

Back then, only 20 out of 100 patients were healed. We healed 11 patients out of the 11 that we treated. That is how we raised funds ⸺in the USA⸺ to provide more assistance and, in 1999, the Bill & Belinda Gates Foundation donated USD 40 million to us.

So it was thanks to what happened in Peru.

No doubt. The treatment was spread around the world and many people were healed. Even the State recognised our work. Peru has the highest global rate of reported cases in which patients were healed.

There was another problem: no one wanted to hire people who had recovered from TB and that is why they received training.

Yes, our model has three pillars: medical support, psycho-emotional support ⸺so that patients do not get depressed, since treatments are long and tough⸺ and economic support. Most of our patients lived in extreme poverty. They could not take medications for one year if they had to work, if they were not properly fed, if they had no strength, so we included the socioeconomic support, which provides not only economic assistance but also nutrition and housing ⸺so that their families do not get infected.

So you not only heal them, but also prepare them to keep going on.

We have an Income Generation Programme which provides scholarships to follow technical careers or handicraft workshops for patients or their family.

In that way, the life of someone declared terminally ill changes completely.

A few months ago, thanks to another project, we visited the home of a little child, and we noticed that something was going on at the back of the house, there was some noise. The fourth time we visited the house we found the owner crying; her 40-year-old son was locked up at the back sitting on cardboard. He suffered from TB, was declared terminally ill and was crying because of pain. The health centre did not want to treat him, so they were only waiting for him to die… He was tied, his back was destroyed and he had not drunk water for four days. These are the kind of cases we find!

Could you save him?

He is currently under treatment! When I was told about it, I went to see him. He can now sit and eat, he even makes jokes. He looks so much better.

Even though you receive funding from abroad, you also need local support.

We need many more resources. In Northern Lima, there are people with significant power purchase who must know that our work is also helping them. Many of their workers, who do not live in the best conditions, are at risk of getting sick!

Your work is really hard, how is it possible that so many foreigners come here to volunteer?

I think is due to the way we work and our results.