We would like to wish everybody a happy Diwali!

Diwali, the festival of lights, is a time for celebration. It’s a time for giving, not just to friends and family, but also to those who need help.

This Diwali, we are appealing for our supporters to help light up the life of somebody affected by leprosy, a forgotten disease which many believe was eradicated long ago. Yet, in India the numbers of people affected are rising and at their highest level since 2007. Worldwide there are thought to be over 3 million unreported cases.

Leprosy starts with numb patches on the skin and without treatment can lead to disability and blindness. This can have devastating consequences for children or those who can no longer work and support their family. But it is curable and, if found and treated early, patients can be expected to recover and be free of disability.

Knowledge is key to preventing leprosy. Knowledge of the disease and its symptoms enables early diagnosis and treatment of those affected. A wider understanding helps to reduce the stigma that they experience.

This Diwali, we are sharing Sunita’s story

Sunita is just like any other 15 year. She lives in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh with her parents and six siblings. She enjoys going to school and seeing her friends. But before our help, her story was very different.

She first noticed something was wrong when she accidentally cut her little finger – but did not feel any pain. She was given some herbal remedies, however, because it was the wrong treatment, her symptoms worsened and her hands began to stiffen and claw.

Sunita says that she experienced stigma from her friends and family:

“I felt so alone at school, nobody wanted to play with me and I used to sit and cry by myself. My brother wouldn’t even allow me to go into the kitchen or touch plates or glasses because he was worried he would catch the disease.”

Sunita eventually had to drop out of school as leprosy left her unable to keep up with her studies.

Determined to seek help, her father sought a second diagnosis and Sunita was diagnosed and treated for leprosy. She received physiotherapy and reconstructive surgery to restore the appearance and movement of her hand at one of Lepra’s rehabilitation centres.

She is now back at school and studying with the goal of becoming a teacher. She says that she is no longer lonely and plays happily with friends now that they understand more about the disease and know she isn’t contagious.

Our work spreads knowledge and understanding about leprosy to help those affected.

You can bring light to more people like Sunita by supporting Lepra this Diwali.

Donate today