Visiting Vearu – Lala Gittoes

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Jill and VearuJill Tomlinson exchanging gifts with Vearu Stevens

Jill and VearuJill Tomlinson exchanging gifts with Vearu Stevens

In June I had the privilege of visiting Vearu Stevens at her home in South Santo, Vanuatu. Vearu suffers from a severely dropped foot as a result of nerve damage caused by past active leprosy.  This makes it very difficult to walk, even with crutches and much of the time she relies on her hand-pedalled trike to get her around.  She has twice been admitted to hospital to have surgery to correct her disability but on both occasions the surgery wasn’t able to be carried out.  

When Vearu heard that some of the staff from the Pacific Leprosy Foundation were to be in Santo she asked if we would visit her at home.  We took gifts – some grocery items and a comfortable cushion for her to sit on to prevent her from getting pressure sores.  These gifts were nothing compared to what we received.

A delicious lunch had been prepared for us

A delicious lunch had been prepared for us

Each member of the party was given a garland of braided palm fronds and hibiscus blossoms, and beautifully made woven bags. Vearu’s husband, John, made a speech giving thanks to the supporters of the Pacific Leprosy Foundation for making their lives less difficult.  Then we were taken to a meeting shelter, wonderfully decorated with Hibiscus flowers where a delicious lunch was laid out for us.  Vearu was noticeably moved by our visit, and we were equally moved and humbled by the generous hospitality and kindness of Vearu’s family and the whole village.

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