15-year-old Pankaj would often look at his right foot and ask himself why his ulcer did not heal. He has seen many doctors in his native village in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. Their ointments and antibiotics did not work, rather his ulcer got worse. He often sat by himself as he could not go out and play.
Gottapu Ramu’s is a typical household in rural India–no landholding; the man of the house doing sundry jobs to keep the home fires burning; unable to get a proper education, children while away their time ending up mostly as casual labourers. But Gottapu Ramu’s family didn’t fully fit into the stereotype. His son was good at studies and nurtured dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer!
The Leprosy Mission Trust India’s (TLMTI) Children Unite for Action (CUFA) project conducted a training workshop for children affected by leprosy supported by the project with education scholarship, in New Delhi, on November 29-30, to mould them into leaders.
A total of 33 children and 10 community volunteers from Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and West Bengal took part in the workshop.
“It was always my dream to teach grown-up people, especially women, because I felt women should have access to education as it empowers them to live on their own. That’s why I was thrilled when The Leprosy Mission Trust India’s (TLMTI) WEALTH project asked me whether I could teach women in the adult literacy class the project was planning to start in my village. Before my association with TLMTI, my identity was that of a daughter-in-law and I was confined to the four walls of my home. If I had to go out, someone from my family had to accompany me,” shares Pushpalata while introducing herself.
“I do not mind if my boys do not get higher education but I want my girls to be educated and well qualified”, Saroj Kumari shares her thought with conviction. 32-year-old Saroj, mother of 2 young girls and 2 young boys lives in Rasoolpanah village of Fatehpur Block in Barabanki district, Uttar Pradesh. She comes across as someone with strong leadership abilities.