Jacki Hill-Murphy has just returned from a highly successful second visit to Vilyuisk, Sosnovka and Yakutsk in Eastern Siberia.
In Yakutsk she gave a speech at the Council of Europe Seminar “The European Social Charter – on the way to human rights’. She inspired delegates from across the globe on the extreme humanitarian work of Kate Marsden. This Victorian British nurse, whose journey across Russia to Vilyuisk is probably the toughest journey ever undertaken by a woman, is loved and respected there due to her work in the forest on behalf of lepers. Jacki’s speech centred on the practical humanity of Kate Marsden and how her selfless work inspires the work of social workers and carers in all regions of the vast Sakha Republic.
Present at the forum were the Deputy Prime-Minister of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the President of the Russian Union of Social Workers, the Minister of Labour and Social development of the Republic of Sakha, the director of Directorate of the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe and many more.
Jacki returned to the forest village of Sosnovka 600 km from Yakutsk and was hugely impressed by the beautiful scenarios of life of the lepers in the forest prior to Kate Marsden’s leper hospital being built and the traditional costume display organised for her arrival.
At the nearby town of Viyuisk Jacki enjoyed many opportunities to interact with the local community who were keen to show their love and respect for Kate Marsden. Jacki received awards from the mayor and college principal for her work with the town and she made a presentation to the museum of a signed first edition of Kate’s book. Kleopatra, the doctor in charge of the hospital that now stands on the site of the original hospital, can be seen receiving it in this photograph.
Jacki received a fabulous, traditional welcome at the small village of Chineke on the way to Vilyuisk. They also had a horse ready for her to experience rising in the forest as Kate Marsden had done.