I regret not blogging enough last year; err actually till recently too. I missed recording so many things which I wanted to be written down somewhere, more importantly ought to be shared. They were in some corner of my mind, but never got translated into this space. But they are not things which hold a significance only in ‘that’ period of time, but are timeless. Sharing one such thing now πŸ™‚

All I knew about Leprosy in my life till I visited Sivananda rehab center that ‘just any other day’ last year in search of volunteering opportunities, was that those affected lose sensation in the said areas. All I had gathered from some movies was that they prick the area with a pin to ensure it was not what they thought it was. Β But that day taught me a lot more.

Sivananda lies on the main road in one of the prime areas in Hyderabad, but hardly anybody I meet seems to know about it. All I knew about the place was also just that they shelter the needy affected by Leprosy, TB and AIDS. When I reached the place and asked them if I could go around meeting people, they very happily agreed. Off I went with Lady P who has been teaching the AIDS-affected children there for 8 years now without taking a break or taking it only when she could arrange for someone to fill her place for all the time she would not be around. Such is the commitment of the people you get to see here.

Things I saw and heard shocked me, amazed me, left me hurt and inspired too. I learnt that most people affected with Leprosy don’t get to go back to their own homes even after they are cured because the society never accepts them 😦 Sivananda, in its own campus, has atleast 300 huts where such people now live and lead normal lives. Some of them are married amongst themselves, have kids and live like any of us do – clean their house, cook their own food and so on. Since nobody is ready to take them in, Sivananda has a beautiful system in place where they work in the campus to make different things required in the in-house surgical facility, make and sell agarbatis, candles, lampshades and so on. Β Even those who are on the road to recovery do small odd jobs like carrying the vegetables and provisions to the kitchen etc.. because they start feeling like a burden otherwise.

I got to know that they lose sensation so badly that their feet are always in trouble since they cannot feel any pain even if a thick piece of glass pierces into them, hence making it necessary to wear these thick-soled shoes all the time. Not only this, we all blink on an average every 5 seconds or so, but these people have to remember to do so! I had never even given a thought to that! How many things are keeping us healthy the way we are and how much more grateful we ought to be 😐

In most cases, the fingers become shortened and deformed and they undergo repeated surgeries to ensure as much recovery as possible. Despite all these, they have not lost their hope and zeal. I met this lady who was making beautiful thread-work greeting cards – all her fingers were deformed.

You can have a look here.

I asked her if I could take a video of her making the cards and she was all smiles πŸ™‚ Here she is! Hats Off!

It was so overwhelming that I was not sure if I was ready to meet the kids affected with AIDS too the same day 😐 This was a first too, and my heart alternated between Yes and No. I thought I would cry and I could not afford to do that. But I went, and their smiles like they had the world at their feet made me smile too. They were excited to show me around

Paintings made by them
Some more work of art
Their timetable

I have been to Sivananda many times over now, and every single time the children welcome you with the same zeal and excitement. Contrary to belief, nothing happens to us when we visit either of them. Actually, these kids are more at risk from us because they catch infections easily. Β And this needs to be told to people. The society needs to be sensitized so that we don’t outcast people suffering from these diseases.

I wish we see a day when these problems don’t exist at all; till then, if we can make some time to go visit and spend time with them, it would mean a lot! Actually, it means the world to them.

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