Connecting Hearts through Work Camps ~FY2019 Activity Report (1) JIA (China)

Activity area:

A work camp in Guangxi

There are said to be more than 20,000 people living in over 600 isolated leprosy recovery villages in China. These villages are found in secluded mountains and on remote islands. Among the elderly inhabitants are many who were forbidden by the government from having children. As a result, they have no possibility of family support and live a lonely existence cut off from their surroundings.


Joy in Action (JIA) is working to address the problems they face through work camps. Founded in 2004, JIA has been supported by Sasakawa Health Foundation from the start. The work camp concept combines the idea of “work” (labor) and “camp” (stay). While staying in the villages, work-camp volunteers repair toilets, improve the water supply, fix homes and perform other chores to better the living environment. To date, over 20,000 volunteers have taken part in JIA work camps. One of the unique features of JIA is that volunteers who took part as students maintain the connection after they graduate and conduct funding-raising activities.


In FY2019, 537 volunteers participated in work camps at 25 leprosy recovery villages and two nearby elementary schools in five provinces including Guangdong and Hunan. In addition, fund-raising events such documentary film screenings and workshops were held for graduate volunteers in order to secure JIA’s financial independence, strengthen the organization and ensure its sustainability. 


JIA’s activities are very important because they help persons affected by Hansen’s disease in China live a more comfortable and dignified life, they spread understanding of leprosy—especially among young people—and aim realize a society free from stigma and discrimination.