Oral History Excerpts

Felix Nuñer Sanchar
Paraguay

Introduction

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Recovering Voices From
the Distant Past

Oral History Excerpts

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Stigma, Identity and Human Rights
Conference on Robben Island

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Books Written by People Who
Have Had Leprosy

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Felix Nuñer Sanchar.  Photo by Zilda Borges
I found out about my illness from a neighbour. She saw my spots and told me to go to the hospital in Concepcíon to see what it was. She already suspected because she had Hansen’s Disease but didn’t say anything to me. I found out later. I went to the program, did the tests and found out that I had Hansen’s Disease. Maciel (coordinator of the Hansen’s Disease and Tuberculosis program in Concepcíon city) explained the illness to me and told me that if I followed the treatment correctly, I would be cured. I wasn’t worried because the illness has a cure. My father also had tests but the results were negative.

My mother had Hansen’s Disease but I don’t know if she treated it or not. My father never commented on it. She died of tuberculosis when I was two years old and my brother Alexandre was four. My brother has Hansen’s Disease, too. The illness does not cause me any problems. I am finishing the treatment and I’ll be cured soon. I live very well here. I work with my father on this little farm. I look after him because he is old. I also go to town to sell the produce that I plant here on this little piece of land. I plant everything. We have vegetables and corn. We sell them in the town. I believe that people wish me well. They treat me well. I have also overcome the illness. I am cured.

We need to overcome the illness. The illness cannot take control of our minds. I want to lead a normal life. I want to be able to talk with people, with my friends. That is what I want. You know, that is how I will live my life. I want to work and sell the produce that I plant in the town. If I live like that with courage, people will learn to respect those who have had the illness. I fulfilled my responsibility when I took the treatment correctly. That is why people need to respect me. I am a citizen, am I not? That’s it . . .

-- Excerpts from an Interview by Zilda Borges and Solange Gomes da Silva, members of the network Council of IDEA Latin America. Translated from Spanish by Solange Gomes da Silva. Copyright 2005 Felix Nuñer Sanchar and Zilda Borges.