As a supply of solace for leprosy victims who had been banished from cities because of the stigma hooked up to their situation within the late 1800s, 4 colonial-era spiritual buildings had been restored on the Wadalas Acworth Municipal Hospital by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Company’s (BMC) Heritage Cell.
Whereas the restoration of the temple, mosque and church, which have been cared for by sufferers since their building virtually a century in the past, is nearly full, the restoration of the Vipassana advanced is in its ultimate levels. Different recipients of this Rs 3 crore facelift embody the nation’s solely leprosy museum and a bungalow, full with storage and workers quarters, which was used to accommodate docs. Each buildings, an essential a part of the hospital’s historical past, lie on a sprawling 19-hectare advanced.
Talking with Indian Categorical, stated Pankaj Kathole, conservation architect on the mission, First we carried out a visible inspection. This was adopted by structural evaluation to make sure that the buildings could possibly be delivered to life with out touching the unique supplies. After that, we carried out a restoration that included changing the broken brick.
Established in 1995, BMCs Heritage Cell carries out restoration of previous civic buildings which can be a part of its heritage listing, created in 1996. The hospital’s spiritual buildings are labeled as Grade-II B buildings. The classification of heritage buildings is carried out by a committee of conservation architects, professors and civic officers primarily based on varied parameters. such because the age of the construction, relevance, materials used, significance for the town’s tradition, and so on. The civic physique, which pays for these restorations, appoints a contractor to hold out the repairs and a conservation architect to examine the restoration works.
Renovation of the hospital started final 12 months, and the spiritual buildings had been repaired in simply eight months. Their renovation included using lime plaster, brick powder, repairs to wood roofs and using Mangalorean tiles.
Speaking in regards to the temple, Kathole stated the gable has been repaired and a brand new sabha mandap has been constructed for sufferers to carry kirtans (gatherings the place devotional songs are sung). The roof of the mosque was irreparably broken. We changed it and repaired the partitions, he stated.
The renovation of the church included repairing the uncovered bricks utilizing lime plaster, repairing the pews and changing Mangalorean tiles. The wood roofs of the church, the physician’s bungalow and the museum had been extraordinarily dilapidated. Many components of those roofs have been changed or repaired.
The BMC additionally renovated the Acworth Leprosy Museum. House to panels documenting the early historical past of leprosy, it pays tribute to the contributions of Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhava and Ramachandra Vitthal Lad, fondly known as Bhau Daji Lad, to the eradication of the illness and the battle in opposition to discrimination surrounding the situation.
We now have submitted a proposal to beautify the backyard outdoors the museum, Kathole stated, including that every one the development work, together with plastering, plumbing, sanitary and electrical installations, was carried out by a group of contractors.
Life in Acworth
Earlier than it turned a hospital in 1890, this Wadala advanced was used as a barracks by the British Military. After the military moved to Colaba, HA Acworth, the then Municipal Commissioner of Bombay, transformed it right into a hospital for leprosy sufferers.
In 1898, at a time when there was no remedy for this mildly contagious situation, the British handed the Lepers Act. Beneath this Act, folks affected by leprosy had been banished to colonies removed from cities and cities to stop the unfold of the illness. Since Wadala was on the outskirts of Mumbai, the placement of the hospital made it an excellent haven for these sufferers. By 1984, the hospital handled at the least 500 sufferers a day.
After the Leprosy Legislation was repealed in 1984, it was not necessary to restrict leprosy sufferers to hospitals. After that, the variety of sufferers right here decreased, stated Dr. Amita Pednekar, dean of the hospital.
Talking in regards to the significance of non secular buildings for sufferers, she stated, As sufferers remained confined to the advanced, Acworth inspired the development of those buildings so they may proceed to observe their religion and discover solace.
Actually, sufferers nonetheless pray every day in these buildings. Pednekar added, We additionally rejoice all holidays fervently. Earlier than Christmas, we paint the partitions of the church. Throughout Ganpati, we get an eco-friendly statue. Bajram can be a day of celebration right here. We just lately celebrated Ambedkar Jayanti.
Pageant celebrations are often sponsored by donations from people and teams. The affected person stated: We all the time stay up for these celebrations.
Earlier than the temple mandate was prolonged, celebrations and gatherings had been held within the Alex Hague Leisure Corridor. Situated within the coronary heart of the advanced and geared up with a stage and chairs, the corridor was generally known as Radio Corridor as sufferers would collect there to take heed to All India Radio broadcasts for leisure. At the moment, all six wards of the hospital have televisions.
A typical day at Acworth begins at 7am. Tenants are served tea and breakfast round 7am, adopted by lunch at 11am and an early dinner. In contrast to typical hospitals, residents use their very own colourful mattress sheets. There are at the moment 60 sufferers staying at Acworth. They’re handled by 4 docs assigned to the hospital itself. The oldest affected person right here, affectionately known as Akka, handed away just a few months in the past. The youngest affected person at the moment admitted to the hospital is 23 years previous.
Talking about his life at Acworth, the affected person stated: I lead an lively way of life and keep concerned in hospital administration. I deal with arrival and correspond with donors and organizations. I additionally assist the administration in some every day duties. I get pleasure from gardening. Actually, my vegetation are in full bloom proper now. Though now we have a laundromat, I wash my very own garments as a result of motion is a particularly essential a part of our therapeutic course of.
Sufferers who go away Acworth after profitable completion of therapy obtain a month-to-month pension of Rs 2,500 from BMC. Nonetheless, many sufferers find yourself staying within the hospital lengthy after they recuperate attributable to weak spot and a excessive danger of an infection. Discovering paid work, even doing jobs like driving or bartending, is a problem for these sufferers.
Vilendra Bhalerao, Neighborhood Growth Officer, Acworth Hospital, defined: As a waiter, an individual will come into contact with scorching objects. Shut contact with scorching objects or fireplace can result in ulcers in leprosy sufferers. This prevents them from working within the kitchen.
At one level, vocational carpentry coaching started for the residents of Acworth. This system was shut down as a result of leprosy causes muscle weak spot. This made it tough for sufferers to carry objects, which is important for carpentry, he stated.
Discrimination and stigma
Lack of sensation within the limbs is one other widespread downside confronted by sufferers. Because of weak toes and lesions, sufferers should put on particular micro mobile rubber (MCR) slippers, a kind of soppy rubber. The rubber is introduced from Kerala and the sneakers are made in a workshop on the junction. Along with these well being issues, sufferers additionally battle with nice discrimination.
Regardless of the notice, there’s nonetheless a stigma hooked up to leprosy. A lot of the sufferers are previous and have been rejected by their households. Deformities stay even after they heal, and the chance of an infection is excessive, Bhalerao stated.
He added, One in all our present residents is somebody who was born right here as a result of his mother and father had leprosy. He continues to reside right here regardless of his superior years. He studied at a faculty that after operated on the advanced. Because the common age of our sufferers is over 60, and we had no younger college students, the varsity was closed.
A affected person from Haridwar who has been dwelling within the hospital for 12 years stated: After I first got here right here, I attempted to finish my life on the railway monitor. Over time, the hospital has given me the need to reside and a greater life. Right here they taught me English. I lead an lively way of life and encourage others right here to do the identical. I simply wish to say thanks for the kindness this place has proven me through the years.