For the 13-year-old Gaganand, life was all about playing with friends. His days were filled with frolic and loads of fun. He loved playing cricket with his friends. But one day, two years ago, all this came to an abrupt end.
Gaganand was studying in Class 3 at that time. His mother, Savita Raju Rathore, noticed a discoloured patch on his body. As there was no sensation on the patch, she thought something was amiss and took him to the local doctor, who diagnosed him with leprosy.
“I was scared and my future seemed bleak. There was no hope,” says twenty-one-year-old Shilpa Rauteke, recalling the time she was diagnosed with leprosy three years ago. Shilpa developed patches on her hand and went to the local PHC for treatment.
Meet Akash Rambhau Devlkar, a 22-year-old young man from Nandgaon, in Wardha district of Maharashtra.
Akash’s father was affected by leprosy and because of delayed diagnosis of the disease, he had a deformity. Because of the deformity, he could not work, and this has put the family’s day-to-day living in jeopardy. Akash wanted to make something of his life and give a good life to his parents.
The sparkle of steely determination that shone in Rajkumar’s eyes was convincing enough for The Leprosy Mission Trust India’s SOAR (Securing Opportunities towards Advancing Revenue) project team to propose his name as one of the members of the board of directors of a milk producer company that the project was facilitating. Rajkumar was no different from the other board members – he was also affected by leprosy.
A Class 10 student in one of the best schools in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, Arif Khan enjoyed life to the hilt. With many friends in school and in his village, he never had a boring moment in life. At home also, he had a gala time with his parents and siblings – he is part of a large family of 12 members.