Rome (Fides Service) - It was 1986, when Father Luis Ruiz, SJ, today 91 years old, first set out to alleviate the sufferings of lepers in the mainland Chinese province of Guangdong where at that time there was no electricity or running water and homes were poor and squalid. Since then he has opened 145 leprosy centres all over China which today care for 10,000 patients.
Father Ruiz, who prior to 1986 worked for many years among people with physical and mental in Macao, was making a visit to leprosy centres in Hunan southern China when the local authorities asked him to start a centre for people with HIV/AIDS for which they were ready to offer support.
Despite his years, the missionary accepted the challenge. With the help of a few Sisters and a Maryknoll priest, in April this year he opened and Aids Caring Centre at Hongjian, a port-city on the Yuan River in the province of Hunan.
The Aids Caring Centre is part of a complex with includes a home for de-intoxication and the rehabilitation of former drug addicts. Despite many difficulties the Centre was opened and during his homily at Mass Father Ruiz stressed the importance of Christ’s commandment to love one another.
Many local people praised the selflessness and dedication of the priests and Sisters at the Centre where at present there are three terminally ill patients. Another 17 patients in the final stage of the illness will come soon. The Centre, like the Leprosy centres opened by Father Ruiz, welcome all the sick regardless of creed or race. Two doctors specialised in HIV/AIDS will make regular visits to the centre and be available for emergencies. In May Father Ruiz visited a village in Yunnan where he found many children suffering from HIV/AIDS.
(AP) (5/6/2004 Agenzia Fides; Righe:26; Parole:305)