Ma Chan is an extremely isolated village in Yunnan province of south-west China.  Situated at over 3000 metres altitude in the Eastern Himalayas, the village is situated one and a half hour’s drive from the nearest small town (Qiaotou), which in turn is two and a half hours drive north of Lijiang.  Leprosy sufferers were forcibly relocated to Ma Chan, and although they no longer suffer from active leprosy, they can never leave the village.  Their children are in the same situation, and cannot receive an education as there is no teacher in the village.

In November 2005, students from Li Po Chun United World College under the auspices of GCAT visited Ma Chan and built the village’s first toilet block, a project that also involved digging a 250-metre irrigation ditch for a spring-fed flushing system.  The story of this project, with galleries of images, can be seen HERE.

In November 2006, another group of 20 GCAT students returned to Ma Chan and continue serving the residents through manual labour.  The focus of work in November 2006 was cleaning the soot-stained walls of the residents’ homes and painting them.  An image gallery of this project is shown HERE.   Some articles published in the South China Morning Post on our work in Ma Chan during this trip can be seen in pdf format HERE (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3), (Part 4) and (Part 5).

As a result of GCAT’s work in Ma Chan, and the publicity that arose from it (see previous paragraph), the China Government now sends a truckload of food to the village as a donation to the residents each week, and supplies a visiting doctor who also calls once a week.  With the support of another charity organisation, Caritas in Macau, all the children now attend a boarding school in Kunming where they receive a solid education.  In a very real sense, GCAT’s work in Ma Chan has overcome much of the impact of discrimination faced by the people in the village - which was our aim in serving there.

As GCAT felt that its work in Ma Chan had accomplished what it set out to so, it shifted the focus of its work with leprosy sufferers to different communities, one being in the remote mountains of Sichuan province where the needs are known to be much more acute, and the other in China’s Guangdong province.

This work continues under the guidance of LPCUWC teacher, Ms Cherrie Cheung.

Ma Chan lepers’ village