My internship with Lepra

Throughout all my years in education, I have taken on different voluntary roles that revolve around fundraising and charity work. Having seen an advertisement for an internship with Lepra on my university’s website, I jumped at the chance to take on another role full of more responsibilities that would further my skillset whilst giving me an inside look how charities are run.

Nowadays, many people are not aware that leprosy exists; to some it is still viewed as a medieval disease of which they know little about and what they do know is riddled with inaccuracies. From my three months spent working at Lepra, which flew by extremely fast, I learnt so much about both leprosy and LF. Since my first day in the Colchester office I was bombarded with facts about the work of Lepra and everyone’s roles within the office. Although initially overwhelming, I found this extremely helpful as it really helped me understand how the organisation functions and how all aspects of their work from fundraising to communications to programmes work collectively together.

One of the most interesting things I learnt from my experience at Lepra is their addressing of mental health issues which can be a result of the diseases. I define myself to be a strong advocate of making the issues and struggles of mental health publicly known and ensuring that people are getting the support they need. Discovering that Lepra puts a focus on the mental health issues that can come hand-in-hand with the disease was amazing to hear and is definitely a factor that many other organisations should factor into their work, if they have not already.

Over the course of my internship with Lepra my day-to-day tasks were very varied. As someone that likes to keep busy with different projects this was great as there was always something useful and meaningful for me to do. A favourite task of mine was contacting the list of raffle prize winners from our stall at the Colchester Medieval Fayre that I volunteered at. It’s definitely a good day at work when you get to spend some time phoning individuals with the news that they have won something.

Another aspect of my work that I really enjoyed was reading through the case studies of those that Lepra had worked with in India, Bangladesh and Mozambique. Many of these stories were very emotional to read as they depicted how the lives of these people had been impacted by leprosy and the prejudice and isolation they received their communities, and sometimes their own families. A lot of the stories were very inspiring to read as they told how someone as young as age 8 could go through the process of diagnosis, treatment and then recovery. Reading how the work of Lepra had changed peoples’ lives for the better and had through their experiences had been motivated to help others or to do more in their lives was wonderful.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Lepra. There was not one day where I woke up dreading my 40 minutes walk to the office, rather I looked forward to contributing work towards an organisation that does so much and is filled with people passionate about what they do.

Thank you everyone at Lepra for giving me an amazing internship. After I finally reach the end of my MSc I hope to put the experiences and knowledge I gained from this time to good use.

 

Natasha Elliott