Damien House serves the needs of those living with Hansen’s Disease and provides a clean space and environment where residents live with dignity, love, and hope. Patients receive daily basic needs such as their meals, clean water, and complete medical care. Throughout the year, Damien House welcomes medical teams from the US who collaborate professionally and perform surgeries, which can alleviate the suffering of Hansen’s patients. Since the 1980s, Annie Credidio, BVM has been the driving force in this ministry.
How has Hansen’s (leprosy) impacted your life?
I lived in a little town. I was with my family, I was seven years old. Then I started having some spots all over my body and I didn’t have any feeling. And so they brought me here to Guayaquil to be seen. My cousin brought me here to a dermatology hospital. And when they saw my case, they referred me to Damien House. There was no other child here, just adults. It was really hard for me to stay. I didn’t eat for two days. When I arrived here, my hands were completely contracted. They gave me an IV treatment, and my hands relaxed a little bit. The food was awful. There wasn’t medicine. There weren’t beds, we slept on nasty mattresses on the floor. Since then, Sister Annie bought beds, mattresses, medicine from the United States. She made the foundation that cares for us now.
Sister Annie bought beds, mattresses, medicine from the United States. She made the foundation that cares for us now . . . Before, nobody really cared.
After three months I went back home to my house in the country. So I left and I was afraid to ever come back here, but at age 12, I got an ulcer in my foot, so they had to bring me back. I had gotten worse and worse and I couldn’t work, so I decided to come back here. It was just about that time that I returned here that Sister Annie arrived. Then things really started to get better. Before, nobody really cared.
After they cured me of the ulcer then I stayed in Guayaquil, I had a job with a person that painted furniture. I got married at 16. Then my leg got worse. They advised me to amputate it and I didn’t want to because I was supporting my wife and my family back in my hometown so I resisted. Finally, at age 28, the ulcers had been so persistent that I decided I had no choice but to amputate. Thank God that help came from the United States to help me with a surgery and a prosthetic leg. Now I feel fine with my artificial leg, I can work. I really thank the people of the United States that helped and also the Damien House Foundation.
I ask my God every day to bless all the patients here and also all the people who come here to offer their help.
Monday to Friday I work as a guard here for Damien House. And on my two free days, I work at home making crosses (necklaces) to help support Damien House. I sell the crosses to people who come to visit and that helps support Damien House.
When groups come from the States to visit, Sister Annie often asks me to give my testimony because I know this disease very well; I’ve had it since I was a little boy. I give thanks that God has given me a sound mind, and I don’t see any reason to feel sad. I think that a person has to go on and find joy in life. There are some patients here who have lost a leg and they’ve become bitter and depressed. And I’ve tried to be a counselor for them to tell them you have no reason to be like that, you have to keep going. And I ask my God every day to bless all the patients here and also all the people who come here to offer their help, and also their families and their children. And thanks to God and the help of the people who have supported Damien House, we are doing well.
One does not know what to expect on an ordinary day at Damien House. Such was the case when Sr. Luz called with a special request. A 93 year old woman named Natividad was found by her neighbors crawling on her hands and knees. She was hoping to find some food in her tiny cane house. Sr. Luz asked, “Don’t you remember her? Damien House built a bathroom for her years ago.” Since then, she was abandoned by her family and left alone to care for herself. Neighbors were concerned because she could no longer walk. The request was simple, could you take her into your home? Our reply was an immediate yes! In January, Natividad became part of the Damien House family.
. . . she was abandoned by her family and left alone to care for herself.
Natividad came to Damien House confined to a wheelchair. While here, she met with long term volunteer and occupational therapist Bethany. After some therapy, she is now walking! This has brought a huge change in the attitude and emotions of Natividad that she has her independence back! We were able to do this because of the generosity of all of our donors!
After a visit to Damien House, and after you return home, León is a resident that you remember. He talks to you, laughs with you, and shares his soul with you. It is hard to not remember someone who, after having both his legs amputated, still is so full of life and happiness.
It is hard to not remember someone who, after having both his legs amputated, still is so full of life and happiness.
León recently celebrated his 80th birthday and is still a beacon of joy. He came to the Damien House over 40 years ago and he has been a center of support for everyone. He makes sure things get done and people are taken care of. First with a paintbrush, León makes sure that where the residents live is a beautiful, colorful place. He invites all visitors who wish to leave their mark to help paint and touch-up the murals around Damien House. If you have the time, León will even find you a space to create your masterpiece.
Those who meet León leave here with a deep impression about the kind of family that Damien House is. One can see and realize that this is a place for all those who desire love and compassion and they know this is the home that they can receive it at.
Damien House Welcomes Annie Credidio, BVM
Pure love and joy. After being in the U.S. for several months, Annie Credidio, BVM is officially welcomed home to the clinic she founded three decades ago.
¡Hna. Anita ha llegado en la Fundación Padre Damián y ahora nuestra Fundación está completa! Nuestra comunidad se alegró de dar la bienvenida a Hna. Anita ayer por la mañana, y pudimos capturar el momento en cámara. ¡Bienvenida a casa, Hna. Anita! ¡Estamos tan agradecidos de que hayas vuelto!
Sr. Annie is officially home at Damien House and now our foundation is complete! Our community was excited to welcome Sr. Annie yesterday morning, and we were able to capture the moment on camera. Welcome home Sr. Annie! We are so grateful you are back!
The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary brings dedication and skill to a wide array of ministries throughout the United States and Ecuador and Ghana. From educators to parish ministers, spiritual directors to justice advocates, outreach coordinators to hospital chaplains and environmentalists, BVM sisters are at the margins of society and at the heart of Christian life.
The BVM Sisters, “seek out and attend to those in need” through our investment ministry partnership grants. Join us in prayer for those who partner with us in ministry.
Funding for Ministry Partnership Grants is made possible through the BVM endowment fund.
Damien House, a mission partner of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the 2018 Martyrs Award from Loyola University for its role in serving the needs of those living with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Guayaquil, Ecuador.