July 6, 2017
The Damien Museum, in the Belgian town of Tremelo, is dedicated to the life and work of Father Damien. Named as The Greatest Belgian following a nationwide vote in 2005, Damien was an aid worker and human rights activist in the 19th century. His work with people who were quarantined on the Hawaiian island of Molokai inspired generations of people in the fight against leprosy and continues to reverberate today through ILEP Member the Damien Foundation.
The museum, which now has an English version of its website, traces Damien’s life in a modern, interactive setting. Following in his footsteps, it starts with his early years in Tremelo, then explores his decision to become a missionary, followed by his move to live and work with the community on Molokai. Finally, the museum demonstrates how his dedication and solidarity have served as an inspiration for the global work of the Damien Foundation.
Damien Foundation’s mission is to fight diseases of poverty such as leprosy and tuberculosis. It is involved with projects in Africa, Asia and Central America, providing technical and financial assistance, drugs and equipment. It also attaches great importance to local staff training. In addition to its field projects, Damien Foundation has for many years also supported scientific research into leprosy and tuberculosis and related illnesses.
Along with the community of Tremelo and the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Leuven, Damien Foundation is one of the partners behind the Damien Museum. It is open to tourists, school trips and other groups, aiming to help visitors discover the Father Damien “lurking inside all of us”. Its website also provides useful information about other tourist activities in the Tremelo area.