I dream of a better future for my son

India

“When I was only fifteen years old, leprosy changed my life. I discovered a strange spot on my skin. I thought it would disappear with time. But it only got worse. After a while, I also lost sensitivity in my hands and feet.

My family and the other villagers kept me at a distance. They were afraid that they too would become affected with leprosy

My family and the other villagers kept me at a distance. They would keep staring at my deformed hands and feet. They were afraid that they too would become affected with leprosy. My mother was the only one who didn’t mind touching me and caring for me.

But then, suddenly my mother died. I didn’t know what to do without her. Everyone else loathed my presence; there was not a soul willing to help me. I felt so helpless and lonely that I decided to leave my village. Afraid of all that lay ahead of me.

Meet Ajay, a person affected by leprosy
Ajay, a person affected by leprosy, takes care of his own feet to prevent deformities
Ajay and other persons affected by leprosy in the streets of Amroha, India

It was only then that I went to see a doctor. He told me I had leprosy. He gave me medicines and treated the many wounds and ulcers I had contracted. ‘You will find a leper colony in Amroha,’ he told me. ‘You can live there.’ And so I did. Where else could I go?

NLR taught me how to best care for my wounds to prevent permanent disability

My wife, son, and I live an isolated life at the colony, together with about 30 other families. I barely have the money to provide for my family. Every day, I try to collect a few rupees begging. I don’t have a choice. Because of my deformities, nobody wants to employ me.

To provide for my family, I am forced to beg in the streets

My son’s future is my greatest worry. People don’t want the child of a person affected by leprosy

My greatest worry is the future of my thirteen-year-old son Shivkumar. He doesn’t have leprosy, but he faces discrimination all the same. There’s a chance he will never get married. People don’t want the child of a person affected by leprosy. They simply won’t accept a marriage like that. This is why we need help. To give my son a better future.”