27 December 2012: “The Way Home”

“All those who had been excluded, who had been silenced, and who were invisible actually did not go away. They are the unhealed wounds that cause us dull pain. This book reveals their existence.” 
Leung Man Tao, Hong Kong Social Commentator

The Sungai Buloh Settlement in Selangor, Malaysia, once the second largest leper colony in the world, was created to separate those infected with leprosy from the rest of society. In the process of separation, those infected lost their families, their homes, their rights and their status as normal, upstanding citizens. In 2006, two journalists travelled to Sungai Buloh to report a story on the lepers living there. They left utterly changed by stories of patients searching desperately for their families lost so many years ago, of people trying their best to make do in a society that for thousands of years refused to acknowledge their very humanity. The Way Home: The Isolated Emotional World of Former Leprosy Patients and their Descendants is their attempt to bring these stories to light, to tell their history through highly personal narrative, and to show their readers the plight of this misunderstood culture of individuals.

Nowadays leprosy has been minimized by modern medicine, but the disease’s legacy lives on, both in the culture that used to condemn it, and in the lives of the people it effected most. The Way Home chronicles the plights of many individuals who have been touched by the disease directly or through family. It documents the story of the woman who was allowed to look upon her newborn just once before she was forced to give it up for adoption; of the couple who were allowed to marry but could not be intimate with each other; of the child who grew up in different welfare homes as she wondered about the disease that forced her out of her parent’s care. The authors tell each tale carefully and with sympathy. The book emphasizes the need to move forward past the disease carefully, acknowledging that its scars will never be fully healed.

The Way Home is available in both Chinese and English editions for RM 45. Please click here for more information, or to purchase.