Paraguay leprosy hospital planning a new shoe shop

A cobbler makes customized orthopedic shoes at Mennonite Hospital Km 81 in Paraguay. — Mennonite Hospital Km 81 A cobbler makes customized orthopedic shoes at Mennonite Hospital Km 81 in Paraguay. — Mennonite Hospital Km 81

Since it began in 1951, Mennonite Hospital Km 81 in Paraguay has treated more than 10,000 leprosy patients, along with offering care for tuberculosis and testing for HIV/AIDS. Supported by more than 30 German-speaking congregations, the hospital is celebrating its 70th anniversary with a project to fund a new shoe shop.

The shop is an important part of the medical facility because cured patients’ feet generally have lost all sensation. Feet must be protected because stepping on stones, thorns or hot materials causes no pain. Custom orthopedic shoes are necessary because patients’ feet are deformed or missing toes due to amputation.

Since 1964 the shop has produced thousands of expensive shoes and prostheses, sold at a symbolic low price or given free.

A larger shop is needed, and plans are in place for a new building, expected to cost $350,000. Information in Spanish about how to donate is at km81.org/donar.

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