Batavia is a town in Saramacca District, in the north of Suriname, in the Calcutta resort of the Saramacca district. There is a little harbour near Batavia where the offices of the Netherlands Trading Society were located. Between 1873 and 1883, indentured workers who were recruited from Java to work the plantations, were transported by the Netherlands Trading Society, and arrived in Batavia.
Leprosy dormatory in Batavia
In 1790, an area of uncultivated land known near the Coppename River known as Voorzorg, was designated to treat leprosy. In due time plantations started to sprawl around the leprosy colony, and in 1824, the colony moved its current location in Batavia. Batavia was a military post along the Cordon Road.
In 1856, Peter Donders, a Catholic priest, started work in Batavia, and tend to the sick. In 1865, the colony was assigned to the Redemptorists. In 1866, Donders joined the Redemptorists, because one of their rules is "They shall work among the most abandoned." In 1883, Monsignor Schaap requested retirement for Donders, because Donders was old and spoke unintelligibly, however the lepers launched a protest against the decision. Donders remained among the lepers until his death on 14 January 1887. Donders was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 23 May 1982.
Batavia was closed in 1897, and the lepers were moved to the former plantation Groot Chatillon. Batavia was burned to the ground to prevent a future outbreak of leprosy In 2000 plans were made to restore the colony. The reconstruction reopened on 14 January 2017, and Batavia is nowadays a tourist attraction and a pilgrimage site.
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