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"My village is Malasakkadu. I used to ride a

buffalo cart. I was 12 years old when I

found bumps in mybody.Then I got rashes

and it would not go away. I was riding a

buffalo cart and my arms used to

hurt. Then my eyes and mouth drooped

and I was almost on my deathbed." In

1993 Selvaraj was forced to leave his

village and family as a result of his

developing Leprosy. He was treated, but

due to his deformities he became shunned

from all society. In his words "My family

abused me and asked me to get lost.

They hated me. "Selvaraj became a beggar,

sitting in the train stations and asking alms.

After a while he learned about one of the

colonies for leprosy patients and has been

living there ever since.

Leprosy is Curable!

The Indian Leprosy colonies have tragically

emerged as refugee camps for people

forced to leave their homes and often their

families after being diagnosed with Leprosy.

In the recent words of one patient: Even

our own parents and siblings despise us.

Seeking relief from the bitter social stigma,

they gather together in remote places where

they do their best to cobble out a meager



They usually arrive in the colonies without

any financial holdings. They scrape

together a simple hut or take over an

abandoned one. The houses are tiny and

poorly provide even the most basic

necessities. In some colonies, the roofs on

the houses are collapsing. They are usually

filthy and dark, perpetuating the incorrect

notion among the general Indian

population about the unclean origins of

the disease.


In their new lives in the colonies, the people

often form families and have children.

Although these children are not always

affected by Leprosy, the stigma of coming

from a Leprosy colony makes them subject

to the same social discrimination as their

parents. Often, the conditions in the

colonies cause these children grow up into

beggars themselves, thus perpetuating the

curse generation after generation.


Leprosy has traditionally robbed its victims

of all that is precious in life: their families,

homes, self-respect, emotional well-being

and physical health. It has long been

acknowledged as one of the most

devastating diseases known to man; in

effect, it was a curse worse than death.


Leprosy is curable. Rising Star Outreach

seeks to defeat it. If caught early enough,

Leprosy can be stopped before it ravages

a body. Through our efforts in medical

treatment, child education, and economic

development, we expect to see the Indian

Leprosy colonies develop into clean,

thriving, and self-sufficient villages.



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