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A story about Akwaji (Oluwa in the book) - the tobacco loving leprosy patient in Ogoja.

Many of you who have read the book have enjoyed the story of Oluwa, the tobacco loving leper patient in the Ogoja leprosy settlement. In the next several days, I will share the original story of Akwaji (his real name) and tell you a little more about him, so please come back each day to find out more.

Lily (Anna in the book) and several others wrote in the newsletters for the MMM that were distributed world wide. The purpose of the newsletters was to let others know the good work that was happening in Nigeria as well as to thank people for the donations they had made toward the cause.

This story was written by Sr. Frances Morris, M.M.M:

Into my life stepped Akwaji

I would like you to meet Akwaji (given the name Oluwa in the book), because I think he is worth meeting, but I'm afraid you're not likely to, not in the flesh, at any rate, because about 4000 miles of sea and land separate you from him. Yes, about 4,000 miles away as you look towards the southern horizon, the sun shines brightly on Akwaji's home. You pass the village of Ogoja, and two miles beyond the Mission you meet a triangular flower-bed with roads branching around it. There is a small notice-board in the centre of the flower-bed. It says: Ogoja Leprosy Settlement. Akwaji lives there. He is a leper- one of the hundreds you would see if you could walk around the settlement.

Before I go on, perhaps i had better tell you how i found him, or rather I should say how he found me! It would be about 12 months ago, about mid day on an average Monday. Most of the day's work was finished in the Settlement, for by 1 p.m. all self-respecting (and health-respecting) people in the tropics have their working budget well balanced for the day. We had just finished operations in the Theatre (hospital), and after a look around at the nursing staff (all patients, incidentally), to see that the cleaning-up process was well in hand, I prepared to return to the Convent compound. Putting on my helmet I breathed a sigh of thanks that at least for one day everything was going according to plan. I stepped out then into the blazing mid-day sun, and Akwaji stepped into my life.

He was there on the little half-wall that surrounded the Theatre, a boy of perhaps about 18-19 years old. The first thing you noticed about him was the "Mona Lisa" smile on his face, and that smile made you almost forget why he had come. A crowd of interested spectators gathered round to watch the encounter between "Sista" and "new man".

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