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I am running to raise money and awareness for the Leprosy Mission New Zealand. Leprosy is caused by a bacteria with attack the nerves in the extremities of the body like your hands, feet, and face, leaving the numb and unable to feel and respond to pain. Unfortunately due to the lack of feedback signals people with leprosy often lose their sight because they lose the valuable "blink reflex" and can also end up losing fingers, arms, and legs, because they have no pain system to warn them of injuries, so simple cuts and burns get badly infected. Unfortunately due to lack of understanding many people see these infected would and believe leprosy is a result of a contagious flesh-eating bacteria (which it's NOT!) and there let fear get in the way of offering help. To make matters worse, many people affected by leprosy also face discriminations and stigma in their community because of supersition, religious beliefs, and attitudes, because people believe leprosy is a caused by immoral behaviour and a curse from god. The psychological impact of this is a devastating as the physical impacts because is affected individuals are often rejected by loved ones and forced to live in shame and isolation. Therefore one of the most harmful aspect because of this people are ashamed to admit they have the disease, which delays diagnose and treatment making the outcomes far more serious than they should be.
But there is Hope. Leprosy mission has been working with afflicted individuals since 1912, and in 1982 and reliable medical cure (MDT) became available which kills the bacteria with cause the debilitating disease, but early diagnosis is critical, therefore the leprosy mission not only work on medically treating the individuals, they also work hard with the afflicted individuals and communities to remove the stigma and give disabled individuals a second chance at life, because without help it can be incredibly difficult for individual to lift themselves out of poverty, as disabilities, exclusion and discrimination can make it hard to them make a living for themselves.
This run is gonna hurt, but I'm reminded of the "gift of pain" when I think about the disastrous consequences a leprosy patient suffers from an inability to feel pain.