OUCRU Indonesia launches new exhibition: ‘Letter from the Hills: The Invisible Burden of Leprosy in Sumba’

This new photography exhibition is by Yoppy Pieter, an award-winning photographer based in Jakarta, Indonesia. It documents, through a series of intimate and beautiful images, the invisible burden of leprosy in Sumba, an island in Nusa Tenggara Timor province, Indonesia.

In this exhibition Yoppy Pieter shares a glimpse of the lives of seven people affected by leprosy from Sumba. Yoppy not only exposes their daily challenges and the stigma they face, but also illustrates their resilience, vigour, and hopes for the future. Through these personal stories and photographs, we aim to raise awareness on leprosy and improve the public knowledge to help destigmatise this devastating disease. 

The exhibition is held at Kala Gallery, Block M in central Jakarta from 10 to 20 of November 2022, and virtually: Letter from the Hills: The Invisible Burden of Leprosy

We invite visitors to take time to explore the themes of the exhibition and view the images created by Yoppy Pieter. 

Map of Indonesia showing location of Sumba Island

Leprosy is an infectious skin disease affecting more than 200,000 people around the world every year. Indonesia is the country with the third highest number of people with leprosy (after India and Brazil). It is curable with multidrug therapy but, if poorly managed, can result in permanent lifelong disabilities that cause significant discomfort, disfigurement and loss in quality of life. Worldwide, around 4 million people are living with some form of disability as a result of leprosy. 

Leprosy and its complications take a severe toll on a person’s mental and social well-being. People with leprosy, and their family members, are often heavily stigmatised as a result of the misconceptions that surround the disease. This stigma and the associated discrimination, limits people’s opportunities to participate in education, employment and society. Leprosy affects poor and vulnerable societies who live in remote and underserved areas. It challenges communities that are already plagued by inequities and lack access to care.  

The exhibition is presented in collaboration with Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, and Sumba Foundation, Sumba, and is financially supported by Public and Community Engagement at the Wellcome Trust Africa Asia Vietnam Programme and the International League of Dermatological Societies. 



About Yoppy Pieter 

Yoppy Pieter is a visual storyteller and educator based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He shoots a diverse range of subjects with an intimate and poetic aesthetic. He has received multiple awards and fellowships internationally. His photography works have been exhibited in Jakarta Photo Summit #3 (2014), Jakarta Biennale (2015), Photography for Tolerance and Diversity (2017), Mt Rokko International Photo Festival (2018), SPECTROSYNTHESIS II exhibition (2019) and published in a book titled Saujana Sumpu (2016). 

About Dr Marlous Grijsen  

Marlous Grijsen is a global health dermatologist, trained in the Netherlands and Tanzania, and a postdoc research fellow based at OUCRU Indonesia since 2019. Dr Grijsen leads a field study to assess the burden of neglected tropical skin diseases on the Island of Sumba in eastern Indonesia. She has also established teledermatology services for remote health clinics in Sumba, using a model for low-cost smart phone teledermatology, that may permit broader access to specialized dermatological care. She has a special interest in adopting participatory action research and community engagement to reduce the stigma that is often associated with skin diseases in local communities. 

Marlous Grijsen and Yoppy Pieter outside the exhibition in Kala Gallery, Jakarta