Rachna Kumari has been chosen to represent men and women affected by leprosy and give them a voice to help influence ILEP’s activities. ILEP is a federation of 14 international NGOs, working in 63 countries worldwide, who support a technical commission of world experts on leprosy.

At age 24, Rachna first became aware of leprosy when dark spots appeared across her face. It was shocking for her to come to terms with this. Due to the stigma surrounding leprosy her husband and her family felt justified in forcing her out of her home. Thankfully, her parents came to her rescue; her father spent most of his earnings and savings towards her treatment in various parts of India while her mother looked after their grandchildren. Rachna’s journey to recovery was long as she had a chronic Type II leprosy reaction and was repeatedly misdiagnosed. It was only when she came into contact with Lepra in 2010 that she received proper treatment and started to recover.

In April 2012, she had the courage to speak about her condition at one of Lepra’s community events. She says, “that day, for the first time in many years, I felt a sense of freedom even though some people in the audience were speaking in hushed voices. I knew my audacity had displeased them but I felt proud”.

Lepra encouraged Rachna to become a community ambassador to inspire others affected by leprosy. With her relentless hard work she is now a full-time employee at Lepra in India Munger Referral Centre and has recently been promoted as Health Coordinator.

Rachna was recently invited to China at a meeting organised by the World Health Organisation where she represented people affected by leprosy in India. She was also short-listed for BOND’s 2014 Humanitarian Awards.

You can read more about Rachna on the ILEP website or Rachna's story.