Ma Chan was built in 1959 to accommodate leprosy patients in line with government policy at the time that all those suffering from the disease should be confined. Once there all except the village chief were forbidden from leaving the village. Chief Xun Nuo, 34, said there were originally about 200 people in Ma Chan but there were now 60 from six ethnic groups. Some left after gaining discharge certificates, others had died. The remaining villagers were trapped by poverty and the threat of ostracism. There were nine families in the village with 10 children, eight of whom had been sent to private boarding schools in Kunming and Lufeng. The local government provided painkillers and 300 to 400 catty of rice to each villager every year. There were also occasional donations of tea, eggs and meat. Villagers grew root crops in summer and ate dried food in winter and chicken and pork 10 times a year. Their staple diet was eggs, vegetables and rice. Since 2000 it had been government policy for people with leprosy to be treated in their own villages which meant Ma Chan will not be receiving any more patients, Mr Xun said. The last person to join was 26-year-old Ding Ju, who contracted the disease six years ago.