One thing leads to another - how many of you find that in your lives you take a path, visit a place, meet a person and this leads you into something unexpected, new, different or exciting. My present little journey started with a British Contact Group Coffee morning- pretty ordinary you might think. This lead me to MESH and SOCHYO - more about the latter soon but MESH which I blogged about just the other day does a lot of work with people who have leprosy.
How many of you I wonder have even come across this disease or know anything about it? I have this biblical image in my head of people with leprosy banished to leper colonies. When I visited India many years ago I saw some begging on the street. Perhaps part of my ignorance is that it is not a disease you see often in the west - but then I think again and realise that just recently a hugely popular book was written about a leper colony on an island in Greece. Literally on my doorstep -another lead -(See next blog entry)
So here goes
Leprosy is caused by Bacteria. It usually starts off as a small patch of numb skin. This may lead to sensory loss and disfigurement of limbs. If you have it, IT IS COMPLETELY CURABLE - perhaps something that was not obvious to most people many years ago who thought it was highly contagious.Campaigners these days call it the world's "least contagious communicable disease".
From an article in the Guardian in March of 2011 comes this moving account:
"Narsappa was just 10 years old when he was told he had leprosy, but the news changed the course of his life forever. People in his Indian village immediately began to shun him and told his parents that he had to leave. He says his mother started grieving for him "as if I was already dead". Shortly afterwards, his father took him to a hospital two hours away from home and left him there. No one ever came to visit him and Narsappa never went home again.
Now 42, he now lives in a leprosy colony on the outskirts of Hyderabad and campaigns on behalf of people affected by the disease. "I lie awake at night thinking about how I was treated and how I can stop others from going through the same thing," he says.
India may have one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but 130,000 Indians are diagnosed with leprosy every year – more than every other country put together.
Read full article .....
So these people are not only battling with the illness which is bad enough but the unwarranted social stigma that seems to cling on to the disease for no good reason. And this in the 21st Century. MESH gives them a purpose and a way of earning a living.And hopefully that is just a start to them achieving a socially inclusive and dignified existence.