“Traveling Around the Globe”: Memoirs of My Life-Long Quest for Leprosy-Free World Published (1) [2021/09/03]
A recently published book on my life-long quest for a leprosy-free world, “Traveling Around the Globe: Reports from the Leprosy Frontlines.”
At the age of 82, I am an older senior citizen with a grade 1 disability. I go to work every day with an awareness of death. I continue my activities humbly to the best of my ability, searching for solutions to various social issues with the understanding and cooperation of many people.
For the past 18 months, my life-long quest for a world without leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, and the associated stigma and discrimination has largely been put on hold by the novel coronavirus pandemic. But this has given me the chance to ponder over how I have come to where I am and what I should do from now on.
Over more than four decades, I have made 552 overseas trips, spanning a total of 3,399 days, on my mission to fight both the disease and the discrimination−from the Amazon rainforest to a village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that was home to a semi-nomadic population of pygmies. I suppose it must be the will of God that I have not been infected by malaria or dengue fever in the course of these journeys.
I look forward to the day when I can begin traveling again on my life-long quest, once we have made tangible progress in the battle against COVID-19.
In the meantime, the last 18 months have provided me with an opportunity to compile my fullest account yet of my work against leprosy. “Chikyu wo Kakeru; Sekai no Hansenbyo no Zensen Kara” (which can be translated as “Traveling Around the Globe: Reports from the Leprosy Frontlines”) is 936 pages long and contains about 700 photos.
Released by Kousakusha Co., the book covers my activities as a leprosy elimination ambassador, making some 200 overseas trips to a total of about 70 countries.
Among other things, it shows how consistently and passionately I reiterated my threefold message, namely, that leprosy is curable, free treatment is available around the world, and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy has no place.
The book also sheds light on my years-long journey leading to the 2010 U.N. General Assembly resolution on elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members together with accompanying principles and guidelines. This was the culmination of persistent advocacy, with the support of other stakeholders and the Japanese government, to urge the U.N. to recognize discrimination in leprosy as a human rights issue.
For now, the book is available only in Japanese, but I am planning to publish a translation, hopefully sometime next year.
(To be continued)