Inauguration of the Historical Archives Exhibition on Leprosariums in Macau
The Cultural Affairs Bureau has finished restoring the “Village of Ka Ho,” previously used as a leprosarium. The Bureau held an exhibition of “Land of Hope – Historical Archives Exhibition on Leprosariums in Macao” on 6 November, Saturday, in the Village of Ka Ho. The inauguration was officiated by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ao Ieong U; the President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Mok Ian Ian; the Bishop of Diocese de Macau, Stephen Lee Bun-Sang; the Director of the Department of Publicity and Culture of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao SAR, Wan Sucheng; the Director of the Social Welfare Bureau, Hon Wai; the Director of the Health Bureau, Lo Iek Long; and the President of the Association of Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers of Macau, Augusto Nogueira; The Advisors of the Office of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Lo Hou Chi; the Vice Presidents of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Leong Wai Man and Cheong Lai San; the Head of the Department of Publicity and Culture of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao SAR, Bai Bing also attended the ceremony.
President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau Mok Ian Ian said in her speech that Macau was one of the first places in Asia to set up a leprosarium. It was founded in the mid-16th century by the Macau Holy House of Mercy and has been a part of the city’s fight against leprosy for more than 400 years, playing a role in taking care of the sick and strengthening the public health system of Macau and also receiving patients from Mainland China and Hong Kong.
Built by the Macau Portuguese Government in 1885, the original name of “Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho” was “Ka Ho Leprosariums” until 1963, when the Italian Rev Gaetano Nicosia, SDB, worked to change the name of “Leprosariums” to “Village of Our Lady.” Imploring the Blessed Virgin’s care and blessing, they developed the original building into a living and productive medical and religious community. Ms. Mok also said that the “Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho” reflects the social service work of the Government and the Macau Diocese in the past.
After the opening of the exhibition, the guests were guided through the exhibition by Ms. Lau Fong, the curator of the Macao Archives. She began by describing the background and development of leprosy. “Leprosy is caused by a bacterium that affects the nerves of the skin, the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes. The bacterium was discovered by Norwegian doctor Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, which is why leprosy is also called ‘Hansen’s Disease.’ With the development of medicine and the introduction of antibiotics in 1940, leprosy is now a curable disease. Macau was one of the first in Asia to set up a leprosy isolation home and the first leprosy home established by the western missionaries in China.”
The exhibition in Ka Ho is divided into several areas in the original “Our Lady of Sorrows Church” and the other cottages. The curator said that some churches in Macau are rarely used as exhibition venues, but after the completion of the new Our Lady of Sorrows Church, the old chapel was converted into a recreation room, and now there is an opportunity to restore the site into an exhibition, which is very precious.
In the old church one can find photos of the liturgy held previously in the chapel. There are also photos of the consecration by the Bishop of the new “Our Lady of Sorrows Church,” and in another cottage there are also simulated beds and facilities depicting the life of the patients in the past, so that visitors can experience the isolated life of the lepers. The opening day was also the death anniversary of Father Nicosia. This is why the reopening of the exhibition and the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho on that day had a special meaning.
“Land of Hope – Historical Archives Exhibition on Leprosariums in Macao” has two exhibition areas. One of them is in the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho. It is a permanent exhibition and is closed only every Wednesday. The other exhibition area is in the Archives of Macau, running from 6th November 2021 to 6th May 2022, closed every Monday and Public Holiday. Both exhibitions’ opening hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the exhibition, a number of seminars will be held. More details can be found in the website of Archives of Macau, www.archives.gov.mo , the Facebook page “IC Art 藝文棧” and the WeChat page “澳門文化局IC”.
Village of Our Lady officially rated as Immovable Asset
Before the restoration and revitalization of “The Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho,” the buildings had been left vacant and in disrepair for many years; the five cottages and the old recreation room were all in various degrees of deterioration. The Cultural Affairs Bureau inspected and analyzed the building, reinforced the building structure to ensure safety and successfully completed the restoration of the first cottage. The full restoration of the Village of Our Lady started in 2016. The project has been officially announced as an immovable asset in Macau.
To educate the public about the “The Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho,” The Cultural Affairs Bureau unearthed its historic meanings and values, with the support and coordination of the Diocese of Macau and people from the community. The old recreation centre and the small cottages are now holding the “Land of Hope – Historical Archives Exhibition on Leprosariums in Macao” to display over 100 archival holdings and other related materials, such as the development of the leprosy treatment facility.
Hope for the Recovered: From Leprosy to Recovery
After the revitalization of the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho, the Social Welfare Bureau and other social services collaborated and held the “Hold On To Hope Project” Career Training Internship Program. The Social Welfare Bureau provide equipment and technical support, while the social service organization will manage the operation in order to provide a work training plan for rehabilitated drug addicts. This will include guided tours, sales, maintenance, marketing and management and hands-on opportunities for rehabilitated addicts to gradually re-join the society. The hands-on programs include a café, an exhibition gallery, and recreational for parents and children that provide cultural tours, exhibitions, entertainment, and simple retail catering services to help addicts develop their cultural and artistic skills and expertise in different areas. Until now there are 35 rehabilitated drug addicts who participate in the training, while 16 of them are in the internship. At present, the average number of visitors is about 600 per week and rises to 800 to 1,000 on public holidays.
In addition, in order to promote the public’s appreciation and participation in arts and culture, revitalize the community, create a cultural atmosphere, and build more performance platforms for local arts and cultural workers, the “Busking Programme” of the Cultural Affairs Bureau was held on 7th November in the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho, providing “Visual Art” and “Creative Crafts” for art performers to show their talents.
Cultural Affairs Bureau publishes the photo catalogue of the history of the three Leprosariums
In addition to the permanent exhibition in Ka Ho and the exhibition in the Archives of Macau, the Cultural Affairs Bureau has also published the photo catalogue of “Land of Hope – Historical Archives Exhibition on Leprosariums in Macao” and launched the book in the Book Fair in Autumn 2021. On that day, Ms. Lau Fong of the Macao Archives, introduced to the public the history of the development of leprosarium in Macao, in which three leprosariums were built over a period of more than 400 years: the Hospício de São Lázaro in the parish of São Lázaro, Ilha de D. João Pak Sa Lan leprosarium in 1873, the Village of Ka Ho in 1885. The exhibit showed the evolution and operation of the leprosarium at that time, including the isolation measures implemented, the development of medical facilities of leprosy treatment, the self-sufficiency of the leprosarium through livestock feeding and other means, and the faith of the residents. The photo catalogue illustrates the social aspects of Macao in different periods and presents a reflection of the global fight against the disease.
The photo catalogue of “Land of Hope – Historical Archives Exhibition on Leprosariums in Macao” is priced at MOP190. It is also available for purchase at the Cultural Affairs Bureau online bookstore.