Inauguration of the “Historical Archives Exhibition on Leprosariums in Macao” – Reopening of the Village of Our Lady of Ka Ho

Date : 08/11/2021

In order to showcase the achievements of the restoration, use and revitalisation of heritage buildings to the public, the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC, from the Portuguese acronym) presented “Land of Hope – Historical Archives Exhibition on Leprosariums in Macao” - Reopening of the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho. The exhibition opening ceremony was held on 6 November, at the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho, and was officiated by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ao Ieong U; the Director of the Department of Publicity and Culture of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao SAR, Wan Sucheng; the Bishop of Diocese de Macau, Stephen Lee Bun Sang; the President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Mok Ian Ian; the Director of the Social Welfare Bureau, Hon Wai; the Director of the Health Bureau, Lo Iek Long; and the President of the Association of Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers of Macau, Augusto Nogueira. The Advisors of the Office of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Lo Hou Chi; the Vice Presidents of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Leong Wai Man and Cheong Lai San; the Head of the Department of Publicity and Culture of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao SAR, Bai Bing also attended the ceremony. The exhibition is open on a permanent basis from the same day and the public is welcome to visit.

The Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho is the only existing leprosarium site in Macao. The Macao Government built a leprosarium for leprosy patients at the respective site in 1885. The original leprosarium was composed by only one or two brick houses. In the 1930s, it was rebuilt and expanded into a complex with five residential houses and the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows. Subsequently, a few more buildings were built to meet the actual needs. In 1966, the new Church of Our Lady of Sorrows was built and the original chapel was converted into a recreation room. In 1963, the Italian priest Gaetano Nicosia of the Society of Saint Francis de Sales began his service in the leprosarium in Ka Ho. The priest, together with the inmates decided to rename the leprosarium Village of Our Lady, invoking the protection of the Virgin Mary. ‏With the advancement of medical technology, the Social Welfare Bureau converted the houses of female patients into a nursing home for the recovered elderly in Ka Ho in 1992, and the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho suspended its medical mission.

Before the restoration and revitalisation of the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho, the five houses and the former recreation room were damaged and ageing in varying degrees, as the Village had been left vacant and in a state of disrepair for many years. After inspection and analysis of the buildings, IC proceeded with the reinforcement of  the structures in order to ensure their safety and completed the restoration of the first house, later carrying out the remaining comprehensive restoration works in phases from 2016, which enabled the partial opening of the village to the public in 2019. Furthermore, at the end of last year, IC initiated the procedures related to the 3rd Group of Immovable Heritage of Macao, including the proposed classification of the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho and the former recreation room, as well as the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, more recently announcing that the aforementioned properties have now been inscribed on the List of Classified Immovable Cultural Heritage.

In order to better utilise and revitalise heritage buildings, and to enhance the public’s understanding of the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho, IC organized the exhibition “Land of Hope – Historical Archives Exhibition on Leprosariums in Macao” at the former activity centre and at the adjacent house, showcasing nearly one hundred selected archives and related materials from the collections of the Archives of Macao. The exhibition presents a study of the development of Macao’s leprosy treatment facilities, outlining the history of leprosy treatments in Macao and providing important traces for future research on the history and development of leprosy treatments in the territory. Meanwhile, the exhibition also demonstrates Macao as a leprosy pioneer in the field of relief and rehabilitation, as well as the spread of humanitarianism in Macao. The exhibition is divided into two sections, including the permanent exhibition at the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho, which is open to the public from 6 November and closes on Wednesdays, as well as the exhibition at the Archives of Macao, which is open from 6 November to 6 May 2022 and closes on Mondays and public holidays. The opening hours of both exhibition sections are from 10am to 6pm.

Jointly organised by the Social Welfare Bureau and social service facilities, the vocational training internship programme “Hold On To Hope” (H2H) was launched in the remaining four houses, with technical support and equipment provided by the Social Welfare Bureau and operations management supervised by social service facilities. It provides personalised vocational rehabilitation programmes for rehabilitated drug abusers, including vocational training in guided tours, sales, maintenances, marketing and management, among others, offering practical opportunities for them to gradually reintegrate into society. They will be involved in cultural guided tours, exhibitions, entertainment, retail and simple catering services in the Hope On To Hope Café, H2H Art Gallery, and spaces for leisure and family activities, which help them to develop their cultural and artistic skills as well as professional skills in different areas. Currently, a total of 35 trainees have participated in the training programme, of which 16 joined in the internship. The average number of visitors is approximate 600 per week and reaches 800 to 1,000 people on public holidays.

In addition, in order to promote the public’s appreciation and participation in culture and arts, revitalise and create a cultural atmosphere in the community, and provide more performing platforms for local arts and cultural practitioners, the Busking Programme will offer a Busking Point at the Village of Our Lady in Ka Ho from 7 November, allowing buskers involved in visual arts and creative crafts to showcase their talents. Buskers who are interested in using the relevant performing venue can refer to the guidelines of the Busking Programme.

IC will closely monitor the development of the pandemic, follow the relevant guidelines of the Health Bureau and implement appropriate measures in a timely manner. The public is advised to co-operate with the crowd control measures and everyone must wear their own masks, undergo body temperature checks, and present their health codes of the day upon entry. IC urges the public to visit the cultural facilities at different times, pay attention to personal and environmental hygiene and maintain social distancing after entering the venues.

For more information, please visit the website of the Archives of Macao at, “IC Art” page on Facebook and its official WeChat account “IC_Art_Macao”.