When a person with leprosy remains undiagnosed and untreated, they often face stigma and rejected from their community. Sometimes, tragically, they take their own lives. Shivaram, father of four including Samana, said the stigma was too much for his wife.
“I remember when my wife first discovered patches on her skin. She was so worried about what her parents would think. Her father told her that because she had leprosy she was cursed. It wasn’t long after this that she hanged herself.”
You most generous gift can save people from the despair and stigma that killed Samana’s mother.
Healthcare company, Novartis, supplies the Multi-Drug Therapy medicine for free. Your gift gets Multi-Drug Therapy to the people in need. This is not always simple, especially when leprosy-affected people live in remote areas or are too ashamed of the disease to seek help. It means finding people and making sure they continue taking the medicine uninterrupted for all the months of their course. Otherwise the treatment will be unsuccessful.
Imagine how Samana felt not only when her mother died… but also when she herself found the first patch on her skin. She was 13 at the time.
“My fingers became twisted. I always tried my best to hide that I had leprosy… I was afraid I would lose my friends and they would tease me.”
Samana’s father, Shivaram, says they did not know at first what was wrong with Samana. Tuberculosis? Cancer? Finally, at the community hospital, they found out it was leprosy.
“I knew how bad leprosy was for Samana’s mother. For her, suicide felt like an easier option than battling with discrimination. Through the help of The Leprosy Mission Australia, my daughter finally received the correct treatment for leprosy. Her hand used to be clawed, but since the operation she has much more movement in her fingers. Knowing her leprosy was curable lifted our spirits.”
Samana’s story could have been different. Without Multi-Drug Therapy, the leprosy symptoms could have worsened, leading to ulcers or even disability. Worse still, she could have met the same fate as her mum.
This is why your gift is needed today—to ensure Multi-Drug Therapy gets to the people who need it. Shivaram says nobody should have to suffer the stigma that led to his wife’s death.
“I have discovered so many more people in my community who were hidden, not wanting anyone to know that they have leprosy.”
Shivaram now works with a Leprosy Mission Self-Help Group to explain leprosy is curable and not a curse. As a result, more people have come out of hiding to receive treatment. He knows there are others out there like his wife and daughter who need to know leprosy can be treated.
Your gift of $100 will help deliver free medicine to the people who need it … and help prevent more suicides. (And remember, give to this Annual Appeal by June 30 to receive your potential tax benefit this year).
Today, Samana is a beautiful young girl with her whole life ahead of her. If only her mother had known leprosy was curable she could still be alive today.