Village Alive Programme

Lalita awaits the Itarharwa Women’s Group meeting, Oct 2019. Photo: R Thomas © NLT Ireland

Women of Itarharwa village (below) await the  commencement of Village Alive Programme (VAP) Women’s Group meeting. VAP is a 3 year programme which is currently taking place in 5 villages in District 2. This is a pre arranged meeting where men, women and children come together to discuss their concerns and needs as part of the programme.

Lalita (above), a community outreach team member with Lalgadh Hospital, prepares to meet the Women ‘s Group of Itarharwa village, Dhanusha District.  The women are encouraged to speak about their requirements for themselves and for their families. They grow hugely in confidence over this period.

Awaiting the Village Alive Programme meeting in Itarharwa, October 2019. © NLT Ireland

Why did leprosy die out in Europe? What! There was leprosy in Europe?!

Yes, for example in medieval Dublin leprosy was quite common. There is a suburb in the city called Leopardstown (which has nothing to do with wild cats), but in Irish is called Baile na Lobhar, meaning “town of the lepers”.  It was the site of a leprosy hospital on the edge of the city.

So what happened to leprosy in Europe? Well it largely died out, it is thought, as living standards improved through better food, housing, water supply and sanitation. In effect the local population fought off the bacteria through their own improved health, before modern medicines were invented.

This is the key idea behind the Village Alive Programme or VAP: improved living standards

VAP is an intensive three year programme focussed on a single village, we often choose a very poor Dalit village (a group of people                 traditionally regarded as untouchable).

The programme consists of:

  • health education
  • primary health care
  • clean water supply
  • improved sanitation
  • adult literacy
  • women’s empowerment
  • micro-finance/saving scheme
  • school supports
  • community projects

A local group of leprosy patients who have formed a self-help group invite the programme into the village with the agreement of the local community and village leaders. Nepal Leprosy Trust staff     provide on-going training and support.

Through this process the status of leprosy patients is elevated as they give leadership to the community. A result of this is that any    social stigma they may be experiencing, associated with leprosy, is      generally reduced.

The success of the programme can be measured by the improved health status of the villagers, and the many  other benefits as               indicated in the activities of the programme, and in the longer term a decrease in the incidence of leprosy in the area.

The programme costs approximately €20,000 per year, per village, over three years.

Child takes care of the family goat, Gourishanker Village, Oct 2019. © NLT Ireland

We currently have about twenty villages requesting VAP, and about eight villages completed or completing VAP though NLT.

NLT Ireland is currently running VAP programme (2018 – 2021) in 5 villages, Gourishankar, Odraha/Hariharpur, Manra, Itaharwa, Dhamaura villages through the generous support of Irish Aid.

If you are interested in helping fund or part-fund a Village Alive       Programme we’d love to hear from you, please email us at: info@nlt.ie

Itarharwa Women’s Group Meeting Oct 2019. © NLT Ireland

Above photos: R Thomas © NLT Ireland 2019

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