Ingrid Halvorsen

Documentary photographer and archeologist
    
Dakia leper colony
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Nationality: Norwegian
Biography: Ingrid Halvorsen (b. 1986) is an independent photojournalist and social documentary photographer based in Trondheim, Norway. With an MA in archaeology from Norwegian University of Science and Technology, she felt something was missing in the world... read on
Public Story
Dakia leper colony

Kon Tum, central Vietnam, early 2015.

This is Dakia leper colony. In this colony there are 177 households, 540 residents, 84 of these are patients diagnosed with the disease leprosy. The illness has a big stigma surrounding it, and therefore; if one family member is infected the hole family gets driven out of their home.

The Dakia colony were built by french catholic nuns between 1938-75. It started out as a little refuge in the woods outside Kon Tum, but is now managed by the Vietnamese government and run by Vietnamese catholic nuns. There are 150 children living here with their families and they have built a school, church and kindergarden. The families living here can rent a place to stay and land to grow crops.

The patients that live here will get treatment for leprosy also called Hansen´s disease. It is possible to get cured, but it depends on how far along the patient is and how long they have lived with it. Leprosy is an infection that damages nerves. The result of this is that limbs and other body-parts can gradually «die» and must be amputated. It is infectious, but later research has found that only longterm contact with patients can lead to disease.

In early 2015 there were just one living patient with the highly deadly, far along leprosy at the colony. The other patients had died the week before. It is still possible to live a long life, if the sickness is treated. The Vietnamese health care system is poorly developed and the mortality rate is still not stabilized. 

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