As described by Carrie Scott
Former Development Director | Rising Star Outreach
From his boundless energy, it’s hard to guess that Jayaraj is nearly 70 years old. He is the consummate entertainer and as I walk up to him, I hear his unmistakable tenor voice enthusiastically singing, “My name is Jayaraaaaaaj” in greeting.
Like most people in the leprosy colonies, Jayaraj has had a challenging life. He worked as an accountant for a cruise line company until he was diagnosed with leprosy at the age of 20, at which point he was asked by the company to leave. After that, he taught Tamil and Math in the government’s home school even though he only has an eighth-grade education level. Jayaraj met his wife, Jayamary, while receiving treatment for leprosy. Shortly after they married, a Catholic priest in Chennai told them about the Mogalvadi colony. Both Jayaraj and Jayamary dealt with a lot of discrimination from the local people and felt it was best to isolate themselves in the colony.
I’m not naive enough to believe that he is happy all of the time or even every time I’ve been in his colony, but I think he makes a choice. He chooses to be cheerful and to joke, to dance, and to make music with us, and we love to be with him in return because there’s something perspective-shifting about being in his presence.