Five minutes with a Block Health Co-ordinator Kusum is one of our Block Health Co-ordinators in the state of Odisha in India. That means that she is in charge of making sure our services reach those who need them in a certain area of the state. Kusum is 45 and has worked with us since 1998. She gives us a little insight into what it means to be a Block Health Co-ordinator... “I organise community, mobilise them, identify new cases of leprosy or lymphatic filariasis and show people self-care methods. I also co-ordinate with local government health departments to look at how we can work together more closely. Some of that work involves helping those affected by leprosy or LF access disability certificates. I also refer people for reconstructive surgery should they need it and provide ulcer care.” These tasks keep her busy six days a week. “I wake up at 5am to complete my daily housework, take a bath and eat. I then go into the Puri office for 9am and work until 5.30pm." But, as a Block Health Co-ordinator, each day differs which various locations to visit and people to help. "In the field there is a different plan for each day. One day I could be training ASHAs, the next day running self-support groups and then next perhaps distributing shoes. We have a monthly plan that determines when we visit each community.” Despite working with us for almost 20 years, Kusum says there are still aspects of the work she finds tough. “I find it challenging to send people for reconstructive surgery because it takes so long and the person doesn’t always want to go. I have to convince them that it’s for the best but over time this has become my strength. I have seen so many people have successful surgeries that I can use other patients' previous experiences to convince them. It was harder when there was no support or incentive but now it is easier.” She refers to the fact that we are now able to offer people an incentive to cover the loss of wages they’ll incur when they go for surgery. Many people don’t want to have their clawed hand or dropped foot operated on because it would take them away from their work for a few months. That means a loss of vital income but, thanks to your support, we’re able to help those needing surgery with that loss of earnings. Despite its challenges, Kusum says she loves the work she does. “I like community based work. It’s rewarding. I was even blessed by Mother Theresa once.” While it may be rewarding helping others affected by disease, poverty and prejudice, it can be hard to switch off. “After work when I am watching TV, it can be hard to concentrate because I think of the people I’ve met in the field and how can I help them more.” Thanks to dedicated staff like Kusum, we are able to reach millions of people affected by diseases like leprosy each year and improve their lives. To help us carry on this work, please visit our donate page.