Self-help. What does it mean to you?

Probably books, videos, experts, goals, action plans and rewards.

Imagine if you could improve your income by 30% just by following a self-help programme. That’s what Lepra achieves through its self-help groups in north-west Bangladesh.

We have already worked with more than 155 self-help groups with over 1,600 members.

So what do we mean by self-help?

Our “Learning to live with dignity” programme is based in rural districts in the north-west of the country, where 36% of the population live below the absolute poverty line.

For someone already battling with poverty, the diagnosis of leprosy is devastating. The stigma associated with the disease can lead to isolation and loss of income.

Our self-help groups support these men and women affected by leprosy

Five to eight people will form a group and learn new skills to ensure that the group works well together.

Group leadership skills are enthusiastically absorbed so that members can take on important roles, including representing their peers at higher level committees.

We provide training and, once the group has operated successfully for a year and generated their own savings we provide a cash grant.

Starting a business

Members can then receive a small, repayable loan to buy a goat, a cow, set up a vegetable garden, a village shop or another start to a new life.

Some of the group members become community volunteers, sharing their knowledge and experiences of leprosy and encouraging others to go forward for diagnosis if they are worried about symptoms.

A self-help group changed Rasheda's life

Find out how