Leprosy: Healing & Hope
Many of us grew up reading stories that felt long ago and far away about lepers and their exclusion from community life. For Ramesh, those stories are all too real.
Growing up in Humla, in remote western Nepal, Ramesh worked as a labourer and was married to a local woman.
But several years ago, when he was 22, he began to notice nodules on his fingers, dizziness and patches on his skin. Concerned, he went to his local health post who took six months to confirm his worst fears:
In the weeks that followed, Ramesh's wife left him and his family threw him out of their home. He was abandoned by the entire community to live in the forest and fend for himself.
Leprosy is still considered to be a curse from God: clear evidence of wrongdoing. Many people fear catching the disease and refuse to associate with patients. The situation is worse in remote areas, where there is limited education or awareness about the disease.
Ramesh's local Village Development Committee took pity on him and arranged his transport to Shining Hospital Banke, a five day journey by bus. The hospital is still the only specialist centre for the treatment of leprosy in Nepal's west.
Ramesh has now completed five months of his treatment as an inpatient, and has two weeks to go. He's grateful for the care of the staff at Shining Hospital Banke, but has had no visitors while in the hospital.
"I can't return to my home because they will reject me," Ramesh told us. "I'd like to stay here in Nepalgunj and try to find some work, maybe in poultry farming. If I can do that, I feel hopeful about my future."
INF Nepal has been at the forefront of pioneering care for leprosy patients since its foundation.
Our vision is zero leprosy in Nepal – ending transmission, preventing disability, and putting a stop to stigma caused by the disease.