NLT Ireland focuses on personal and community uplift. After diagnosis and treatment of leprosy at NLT’s hospital or an outlying clinic, individuals – who may be completely cured but permanently scarred – are trained to take care of their wounds.
On their return to their village, NLT helps them to join or set up a Self-Help Group: 10-15 people affected by leprosy or other stigmatising conditions such as poverty or disability.
Members meet regularly to share experiences, address challenges and encourage each other. In this way huge traditional barriers break down. Men and women, young and old, Muslims, Christians and Hindus of different castes all sit together and share their struggles, offer advice, laugh and cry, touch and comfort each other, building self-esteem and confidence.
SHGs go on to bring practical benefits to their villages such as digging wells, building schools and setting up small businesses through microcredit.
Helping themselves in Bengadawar Village Income generation, schooling and adult literacy are among the fruits of the self help group (SHG) at Bengadawar village near Lalgadh in south eastern Nepal. After only a year the twelve members are supporting each other and the wider community to fight the stigma of leprosy. The SHG has been offered a school room for weekly meetings, literacy classes and lessons for children who can’t afford formal education. SHG beneficiaries include: Shankar Pariyar who was paralysed in a recent accident, he can no longer earn money by selling locally produced food. The SHG raised funds to support his seven family members and he was treated free of charge at Lalgadh Leprosy Services Centre. His wife has joined the SHG and will soon join a vocational training programme.
Bimala has set up a vegetable shop from which she earns up to 3000 rupees (approx. €32) a month. Her two sons bring vegetables from the market and help keep accounts.
Though very shy, she is gaining confidence in her role as treasurer of the finance committee.
Thanks to the women’s literacy class run by the self help group, Goma has found her voice. Previously too shy to speak in a group, she now has the confidence to share her feelings and is learning to read and write.