Trip To Carville
Some journeys are just worth it, you know what I mean? My family was thinking it quite odd that I now had this burning desire to visit a place that was once a "Leper" Colony, now known as the National Hansen's Museum. Not only that, it was located smack dab in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana!
It's difficult for me to describe just how excited I was to have finally made my way here.
Upon entering the museum I was quite surprised to be greeted by someone very special. This is Simeon Peterson and I had read of him in Neil White's book, "In the Sanctuary of Outcast." Simeon was sent to Carville with Hansen's Disease when he was just five years old. He has been there for sixty years! It was such a pleasure and honor to meet him. You can read an interesting account of Simeon's story at this British Broadcasting News website. Meeting Simeon was the highlight of my trip, without a doubt.
Since most of the grounds of Carville are now occupied by the National Guard we could not tour most of the buildings and old hospital. They would allow us to visit the cemetery that hundreds of former patients are buried in. Most people that were exiled to Carville usually changed their name because there was so much social stigma associated with having this disease. They did it to protect their families. Not only that but they were also assigned a number when they arrived at Carville. The alias and the number were even placed on their tombstones.
Imagine being told you have an illness, being place in shackles, treated like a criminal, and placed in exile for the rest of your life, never to see family or friends again. Seems harsh punishment for having had the misfortune of having this dreaded disease.
The staff, and precious patients of Carville are credited with having helped to find a cure for Hansen's disease. What a victory! What a triumph! The above photo is one of the first buildings at Carville. It was once called Indian Camp Sugar Plantation. This beautiful, historic home housed the Carville administrative staff.
Sometimes you just don't understand why you have to make a particular journey. I didn't. But I do know that I am blessed to have made this one. Carville touched me in deep, deep places. I am a better person for having visited there.
Much love to my beautiful daughter for joining me on this adventure. We made a few detours along the way, detours that became journeys in and of themselves, but that is a post for another day..well maybe...or maybe not! :)
Blessings of peace everyone and all that is good.