35 million people in Tamil Nadu live on around £1 a day

Steven from the Leprosy community opens a new shopSteven’s Story

Steven has lived in the Pettai leprosy colony for 25 years. His is one of 54 families living in Pettai and we are the only organisation supporting them.

Before he became ill, he was a foreman on a building site. Steven found out he had leprosy in 1977 when he began to experience no sensation in his hands. He was married but when he found out he had the disease his wife refused to stay with him. Steven had a sister who was going to get married when he found he had leprosy. His family members said he could not stay in the family house because other people would know he had the disease.

Begging is your only way to survive if you’re a leprosy sufferer

A decade after leaving his family, Steven and some other leprosy sufferers was spotted begging near the train station by our founder Cletus Babu and his wife Amali. Outcast by society, begging was their only means of earning enough to eat.

Cletus and Amali immediately started helping Steven and others by first giving them dried leaf to make huts.

After years living in that hut, we found the money to build Steven his first home in 1993. Nearly 20 years later, the leprosy village is receiving government grants to build larger houses.

We started educating the children of leprosy sufferers

The children go to school and many of them go on to get good jobs so that they can support their elders.

Every month a person with leprosy gets RS1,000 (£12)  stipend for their family. Steven says it is not quite enough money for a month but they manage because his son is working as a driver. His other son studied in the polytechnic college and now has a shop.

In some years time we will not have to support this village anymore because they will be fully supported by their families.

There are many ways we help the hard to reach and their communities

Stipends and educational opportunities are just two examples of the wide range of activities we employ to help make villagers and their villages more self-sufficient.

Read more about our approach with the leprosy community or watch a film about our work reaching the unreached. If you would like to help us to support more lost communities you can donate.