Mar 07 2012

A day trip to the Valley of Hope (the former Sungai Buloh Leprosy Settlement)

Published by at 2:54 am under Kuala Lumpur excursions


If I was to say one of the most charming places in the whole Klang Valley is former leper colony, you could be forgiven for thinking I was a bit unhinged. But trust me on this one: what was once the Sungai Buloh Leprosy Settlement is not just a beautiful spot to wander round, it has an uplifting story to go with it.

Into the Valley of Hope.

Into the Valley of Hope.

The settlement dates back to the late 1920s, when the British colonial authorities decided to implement a radically different way of treating leprosy sufferers. Instead of confining lepers to virtual prison camps, a self-sustaining community was built in a lush valley, 25km to the north of Kuala Lumpur.

Blah blah blah.

Whatever religion one was, all shared the difficulties of being outcasts.

This humane policy owes much to a forward thinking British doctor, Ernest Travers, who proposed the plan in 1923, after seeing at first hand the dispiriting conditions at existing facilities. Sir George Maxwell, as Chief Secretary of the Federated Malay States, made the scheme a reality, with construction beginning in 1926, and finishing ten years later.

Love thy neighbour, the gospel according to Sungai Buloh.

Love thy neighbour, the gospel according to Sungai Buloh.

At its height, the settlement had more than 2,000 residents, its own school, police force, places of worship, library, theatre, and even currency. Inspired by the “garden city” movement of the 19th century, it came to be known as “The Valley of Hope”. So pleasant was it, that even when effective treatment became available, many former patients chose to stay.

A tightly knit community.

A tightly knit community.

Although a large proportion of the sufferers were ethnic Chinese, the settlement was also home to Indians, Malays, Javanese, Eurasians and indigenous people. Whatever their race, religion or class, they shared a common bond in being outcasts from society at large. The result was probably the most diverse yet harmonious community Malaysia has ever seen.

A true garden settlement.

A true garden settlement.

One of the most enlightened policies of the settlement was to encourage residents to grow their own plants for sale. Gradually, as leprosy became treatable, and the social stigma declined, more and more people came to Sungai Buloh to buy plants. Now the area is home to dozens of nurseries, and is acknowledged as Malaysia’s foremost horticultural centre.

Nurseries as far as the eye can see.

Nurseries as far as the eye can see.

Barely 200 elderly sufferers still live in the settlement, some in their own homes, others in hospital quarters. Development plans looked set to turf these remaining residents out, but thanks to a campaign by the Save the Valley of Hope pressure group, a temporary reprieve has been won. Seventy-eight hectares — or about a third of the former settlement — was gazetted as a heritage site in April 2011.

The cranes are closing in.

The cranes are closing in.

Whether this heritage status is worth the paper it is written on is far from certain though, as little stands in the way of development in modern Malaysia (which doesn’t stop some from fighting it). In a perfect world, the remaining residents would be allowed to live out the rest of their lives in peace and dignity, while the extraordinary story of the Sungai Buloh Leprosy Settlement would be celebrated with an informative visitor centre.

Small but perfectly formed.

Small but perfectly formed.

Visiting the settlement is possible by public transport, either by getting a Selangor Bus number 144A from Medan Pasar in Chinatown, and getting off at Sungai Buloh Hospital, or by getting the same bus from outside Sungai Buloh KTM Komuter station. Alternatively, get a cab from the KTM station.

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One Response to “A day trip to the Valley of Hope (the former Sungai Buloh Leprosy Settlement)” ...

  1. Dr. P.S. Rawaton 02 Dec 2012 at 11:01 am

    Respected Sir,

    This is an outcome of my being mentally attached with the leprotic patients since my childhood when I was just a kid till I successfully cured four leprotic patients. I am now interested to cure the rest of leprotic patients, not only here in Rudrapur, Distt. U.S. Nagar, Uttarakhand state but all over India and the world. But I am finding it difficult as neither the patients themselves nor the govt wants that this menace should go be eradicated. Otherwise, I have come to this conclusion that if there is any simplest skin problem, it is the leprosy which has most simple and permanent cure in Homoeopathy. I am surprised to know why the program of eradication of leprosy has not met its target despite a lot of hue and cry made in this regard some years ago through the anchoring of Amitabh Bachhan. My research article will highlight the efficacy of the homoeopathic treatment in making open leprotic cases whether sterile or otherwise not only free from infection but there wounds which require daily or alternate days dressing would also be removed forever. People, agencies, government or private engaged in the treatment of leprotic are all enjoying government patronage but least concerned with the treatment/cure/eradication of the leprosy. I am in this opinion if doctor/physician like me (I am a qualified homoeopath) are involved, the days will not be far when all the patients suffering from the debilitating disease like the leprosy would be extinguished from the site. Do you really plan to cure/to eradicate this menace of leprosy sincerely. If yes, I am here to cooperate with you.

    Thanking you,

    Dr. P.S. Rawat,

    Rudrapur, Uttarakhand, India

    AND THEIR BANDAGES GOT REMOVED THE VERY NEXT DAY
    I got a chance to visit Leprosy Centre located in Chandigarh in the month of August-September of 1988 for the first and last time. Though I went there to treat leprosy-afflicted patients homoeopathically, but on reaching there I came to know that the patients were being treated under the supervision of doctors of Skin Division of Postgraduate Institute of Medical and Research Institute Chandigarh. So I did not think it appropriate to interfere in their mode of treatment in any manner. I noticed there that a lot of patients had their limbs covered with bandages which they got done in a private physician’s clinic situated in sector 47. Then it did not strike in my mind to remove their bandages. So I did not feel the need to visit them again. I do not know why, a question always flashed in my soul why these patients got their limbs bandaged every second or third day by doctors/compounders while they were cured in true sense. This means that leprotic patients do not get fully cured even after taking mixed drug therapy (MDT).
    This constant thinking developed into a desire to meet leprotic patients at a different Leprosy Center. At last, I got such a chance to visit a Leprotic Centre on 30 January 2011, located at Rudrapur which is the capital city of Udham Singh Nagar District. The fact is that being new to this place I did not have enough information about the populace settlement (though I had spent 5 months here). In spite of this, I used to visit Main Market and Bank of Baroda located at Galla Mandi from Agrasen Nagar, Bhadaipura occasionally for my personal work. During one of such visits, my gaze suddenly fell on a Leprosy Centre located at Left side of the road while I was on my heels. The sleeping thoughts in my mind got active, but then I did not had in my possession the potency of a leprosy-curing medicine through which I was able to treat two leprotic patients successfully in the past. That is why I had to wait for one-and-a-half months before I got a chance to bring the high potency (CM) of this medicine from my home in Chandigarh.
    It was a Sunday on 30th January 2011, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, but there was no mention of leprosy in the advertisements/descriptions in any of the newspapers which should have been issued by Family Welfare Division of Central or State Governments otherwise. Only a big advertisement, a colored one was issued by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry of Indian Government in which a picture of Mahatma Gandhi was published. Along with it a tricolour and colored photographs of Hon’ble Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr. Dinesh Trivedi and Mr. S. Selvan were shown. Beneath it, the achievements of National Rural Health Mission were highlighted in 9 lines in continuity. It was written below Mahatma Gandhi’s picture—
    “The dream of my Swaraj is Swaraj of poor people. Swaraj cannot be complete till there is an arrangement to guarantee that most basic needs of the most poorest person will be fulfilled.”
    –Mahatma Gandhi
    The last one of the 9 achievements of NRHM – From the beginning of the mission from the year 1995 till 2010 the least cases of Polio have been found. This means that one could find no information mentioned about leprosy anywhere.
    Around 12:30 in the mid of day, I started walking towards the Leprotic Centre from my home, I barely had in my possession a 2 dram plastic bottle containing some white medicated globules from November 30. Before this I used to observe, how people used to bring eatables, fruits and sweets along with them. Also on that day some people were coming along with a huge load of items containing mostly biscuit packets. One person was clicking photographs of everybody present there. It seemed that some factory owner along with his employees had come to distribute biscuit packets in the Leprosy Centre that were produced in his own factory, but I had gone there empty-handed. In spite of this, a lot of people surrounded me on reaching the Leprosy Centre. Actually these people were waiting for arrival of an employee of Electricity Department and they mistook me for that employee. When I introduced myself, the most of the patients did not think it necessary to remain there. Instead they left me. Some of the patients were talking amongst themselves about medicines being given to them by government doctors for their day-to-day ailments. They also showed me the medicines which contained some capsules and some small and big tablets. I was able to overhear a patient who was saying to other patient – oh you have been given Diazine for stomach ache, you should have been given ranitidine instead. After the crowd thinned, I told the patients present there about their treatment through Homoeopathic medicines. At this, they highlighted about how the government doctors used to take them to Dehradun and got them photographed. Two patients present there listened carefully to what I said. They got a chair arranged for me and I sat on it. The said there were one to two doctors in the city who used to treat them free of charge.
    Ravi Nayak, a young patient was telling about himself that he has stayed in various Leprotic Centres/Hospitals across the country for his leprosy treatment, but he did not get proper treated properly in any of these. His right hand and right foot had degenerated to a stub and there was a white bandage on his ankle. Likewise another middle-aged patient Mahender Chauhan had a white bandage over right Malleolus bone of right feet. I did not think it appropriate to remove his bandages. All of a sudden I discovered an open wound in the right knee of Ravi Nayak in which there was no pus in it and no bandage was tied on it. I could not see this wound earlier as it was covered by a lungi (a cloth worn around the waist like a long skirt). According to Nayak, this wound got developed due to a hair follicle infection (boil). There were also three filled up signs on his left ham. He was telling that these signs also had resulted from a hair follicle infection (boil). He told that his daughter is being trained as a nurse in some nursing college in Pune and only she has advised him to get applied the squeezed liquid of wheat plants on the affected body parts. For this reason, the wound was looking open and clean. I advised him that this wound was not the result of a hair follicle infection (boil), but was a wound due to leprosy and why he is getting hair follicle infections (boils) again and again.
    Nayak believed on my advice. Thereafter I instructed both Ravi and Mahender to take the leprosy medicine which I took along with me with a clean mouth in three doses after a three-hour gap each in a day. I made them eat one dose each there itself in my presence. I promised to come back after a week on the coming Monday. Then I returned to my home. Before coming back, I thought it appropriate to pen down my name, address and mobile number in their register. I also imparted them necessary instructions.
    By doing so, though my mind-soul experienced a huge relief, but after a few moments a strange fear engulfed me due to a doubt that taking the high potency three doses of the medicine might lead to aggravation of the disease in the patients. Then I recollected that I had instructed them that if they faced any difficulty on taking the medication, they should inform me over the phone. That day passed somehow. The second day also passed in the same manner. I did not get any information on phone from them. On the third day, I had to pass by the Leprosy Centre for some personal work of mine. Fear coupled with doubt in my mind forced me to avoid even looking at the Leprotic Colony. This was also due to an old incident in Saharanpur city where I had given one or two rupees to a leprotic patient. This was seen by some other leprotic patients. They all came close to me and encircled me. Their disfigured faces, hands and feet can make any sensitive person quite uncomfortable.
    As a result, I was heading towards my destination silently when somebody called me from behind by yelling “Dr. Saheb.” The thought which made me dread, turned into reality. When I turned back to have a look, a middle-aged man was standing along with a small child at some distance. On getting close to them, I discovered that my own leprotic patient Mahender Chauhan along with his grandson had come to the road to enjoy the sun. In winter days, it becomes dark the moment sun sets. So both of them were getting ready to go back when Mahender spotted me going and he called me from back asking me to stop. I enquired about his well-being. He replied that he had thrown his bandage after removing it from his feet on Monday night itself because the wound had almost dried up. I also inspected the wound and indeed it had dried up completely. But still it would have taken 1-2 more days to become even. Mahender was very happy. He expressed his gratitude by saying I was God though I urged him to stop saying this. According to him, his wife is also afflicted with leprosy. The day I gave medicine to Mahender and Ravi, probably she had gone to city for begging. She also needs to get bandaged. His young son works in some factory and his son aged 5-6 years had come along with his grandfather to enjoy sunlight. When I told him as he is completely cured now, then why there is a need to live in a leprotic colony. He said where he would go now in this old age. This means that leprotic colony has become a permanent residence for him.
    On asking about Ravi Nayak, Mahender said he is also cured. But how much he has been cured, I could not get full information on it. As per my prior commitment, I instructed the rest of patients to remain present in the leprotic colony on next Monday so that I can render them bandage-free forever after administering all of them the medication. Only then I would think of their cure from leprosy in real terms. Thinking this, I went a little further to Indira Chowk for buying fruits.
    As per my promise, I reached Leprosy Centre at 1 p.m. (predetermined time) on next Monday. On reaching there, I saw that the whole of colony is devoid of people. There were hardly 3-4 males/females standing in front of some houses. On asking them, I came to know that most of the colony patients as well their family members were on their way to a function being organized by Gayatri Parivar, a social organization. All of them were brought to the function venue by arranging buses or trucks where all the people were to be provided meals along with cash disbursement. Feeling despondent, I returned to my residence.
    Thus, the leprotic patients forced me to think again that they themselves want to remain leprotic patients. This enables them to receive benefits in many ways. That is the reason, the rest of the leprotic patients thought it more beneficial to travel, receive eatables and cash of Rs. 25 per head on the eve of Vidai (a Hindu ceremony to honor a person by bestowing money on him when leaving a place) than receiving the medicine. Then I also did not think it right to visit Leprosy Centre again for medicating patients. Yes, to get proper information about the existing condition of the patient Ravi Nayak, I went straight to the Leprosy Centre on March 2, 2011 on the eve of Shivratri, (a Hindu festival associated with Hindu God Lord Shiva) after fulfilling my official duty at Kheda Peripheral O.P.D. But on reaching there, I came to know that Ravi Nayak and Mahender Chauhan along with other people had gone outside the city to be take part in the Shivratri festival.
    Readers might be really curious to know about the medicine for Leprosy disease. Though in Robin Murphy Repertory, there is a mention of about 57 medicines in total for leprosy, but I was able to cure all the leprotic patients by administering a single medicine in doses of different potencies. The first patient, who was a young lady, was given 50000 potency doses. The second patient, a small girl aged 2-3 years, was given 10000 potency doses. Third, a young lad and fourth, a middle-aged man, both were administered 1 lakh, meaning CM potency doses. Dr. Hahnemann has named this medicine as “King of Anti-Psora.” Dr. Hahnemann mentions this medicine in his Laser Writing. Even I have not read this book, but other writers in “Organon of Medicine” have described Psora as leprosy. Leprosy is the most disfiguring form of Psoriatic Miasm. This has so much organ disfiguring potential that it has pushed Syphilis, another debilitating ailment to the second spot in the terms of destruction power. According to me, Psora not only creates functional disturbance but is also responsible for maximal bodily destruction. This miasm is found in every person. Its cure is possible only through Homoeopathic System of Medicine.
    It is said when a child is born, he is free from this miasm completely. But as he grows up, this miasm starts sprouting inside the individual. On growing up, this miasm from one side begins to express in terms of sexual desire, anger, intoxication born of egoity, fondness, greed and pride, on the other it expresses in terms of big-small diseases of the human body such as itching, scratching, abscesses up to leprotic disease. Though, a human can remain free of this miasm for some time by taking Anti-Psoriatic medicines of Homoeopathic System, in spite of this, it is able to make inroads into human body. That is why he keeps on suffering with diseases time and again. It is impossible to keep it away from the body forever. But yes, just like as the body is made to undergo bath time and again, this can also be kept at bay by taking homoeopathic medicines time and again.
    Readers, especially the physicians attached with any system of medicine, can themselves experiment on the King of Psoriatic medicine. Like me they can also treat, not only 2-4 leprotic patients, but thousands of leprotic patients by giving this single medicine or by giving Tuberculinum (in cases of Tuberculoid leprosy) in high potency, starting from 10000 according to instructions of Dr. Kent and remove leprosy disease forever. But then a new problem of rehabilitation of people, who are involved in the welfare of leprotic patients may arise. That is why, like other diseases, not resorting to total eradication of leprosy, is due to the vested interest of the rest of society itself. This is my thinking. Maybe this has been the policy of the Health Department. Otherwise, can’t an able Homoeopathic physician employed in every Leprotic Centre/Hospital to eradicate all types of leprotic diseases. Surely this can be done.

    Dr. P.S. Rawat

    Professor of Repertory

    Chandola Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Rudrapur
    District Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand, India

    91-9456577638

    dr.psrawat47@gmail.com,premrawat182@gmail.com

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