LEPROSY CRISIS IN INDIA
Imagine having a disease that negatively impacted every aspect of your life in a major way.
If the cure to that disease were available and free, could anything stop you from seeking it?
Leprosy is curable. The treatment has been available for free since 1995, yet, over 200,000 new cases of leprosy have been reported since 2015.
So, why is leprosy not actually eliminated? Why do so many continue to suffer from it?
The simple answer is also incredibly complex: Stigma.
In many parts of India, lingering effects from a now-outlawed Caste System prevail; this includes the belief that leprosy is a curse and the result of past wrongs. People affected by leprosy often live as outcasts in colonies away from cities, society, and educational/job opportunities.
Rising Star Outreach’s community-based approach tackles these issues from broad social angles to face the stigma head on.
WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST
The number of new leprosy cases in India by the end of 2016
The estimated number of Indians now permanently disfigured by leprosy
The estimated number of leprosy colonies within India, today
“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody.”
– Mother Teresa
STORIES OF EMPOWERMENT
Meet some of the many inspiring faces of Rising Star Outreach
Raj* is a 12-year-old boy with a giant smile that lights up a room. He was born in a leprosy community and has just wrapped up his 6th-grade year. That is just a year or so before most kids in his circumstances would be ending their schooling to start working – begging or as day laborers – if they were lucky to get any schooling at all.
Theerthi grew up in a leprosy colony and was raised by “adoptive” parents (both leprosy survivors) who took her in as their own and loved her abundantly. Though their own needs are significant, they always put Theerthi’s needs first. They were determined to propel her into a kinder, brighter life than the ones they had been forced into as a result of the ancient stigma that surrounds leprosy. She started her journey towards that future at a young age when she was enrolled in Rising Star Outreach’s Peery Matriculation School as a kindergartener.
Although it is obvious that life has been difficult for her, Shanti’s strong spirit shines through in her smile. And while she is now cured from leprosy, the disease left her with significant disabilities. Yet it is also obvious that she is more than just a leprosy patient or an amputee. She is confident and self-sufficient, happily cooking and selling food in her community.
Susila lives in the Bharatapuram leprosy colony with her husband. Her husband is a leprosy affected patient and because of his disabilities, she has been the sole provider for fifteen years.
Jennifer was just a toddler when she began to show the signs and symptoms of leprosy. Discarded and abandoned by her parents as a baby, she was rescued by her grandfather even though he was suffering severe effects from leprosy. He was determined that she have a better life, and so he entrusted Jennifer to our care.
When Padma and I approached the colony we saw this woman confidently stride by, followed by a gaggle of turkeys. She looked like the Pied Piper of turkeys! Padma called out to her, “Madam, what are you doing?” She responded cheerily, “I’m walking my turkeys. I walk them for 45 minutes every morning and every night.” She confided, “They are like my children!”
SOLUTIONS IN ACTION
Rising Star Outreach empowers individuals and families to rise above the stigma associated with leprosy and to live healthy, productive lives through quality education, medical care, and community development.
Our programs empower leprosy-affected individuals to develop sustainability in their colonies, and eliminate the stigma of leprosy in the communities that surround them.
The results we’re seeing are powerful and encouraging. There’s much more to do. Through people like you, these programs become lasting solutions to an ancient problem.
OUR IMPACT THROUGH
Of the 6,681 people that were screened for leprosy, 70 new cases were discovered. All patients were treated.
Our medical program provides treatment and support for people living with the deforming and debilitating effects of this terrible disease. Below are some of the treatments and care provided by Rising Star from April 2016 thru March 2017:
leprosy colonies with access to our care
OUR IMPACT THROUGH
Repayment of Micro-Finance Loans.
Rising Star Outreach helps facilitate infrastructure, growth, and community development within India’s leprosy colonies. In 2022,
Micro Finance Loans
self-help groups empowered
clean water projects
OUR IMPACT THROUGH
Repayment of Perpetual Education Grants
One of the fastest and most effective ways to overcome the stigma associated with leprosy is education.
Students K thru 12th Grade currently enrolled
Class of 2022 Graduates
Perpetual Education Grants
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
When you partner with Rising Star Outreach, you have a chance to be a part of this impact. Here’s how you can get involved.
SUPPORT A PROJECT
Ready to take action?
Donate today to make a lasting impact.
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