We first met Bhola three years ago when he was being treated for leprosy. Bhola continues to visit our Munger Referral Centre in Bihar for physiotherapy to address the disabilities he developed due to leprosy.
Bhola was only three when he contracted leprosy. His family sought treatment from several private and public health facilities, but unfortunately they never gave him Multi-Drug Therapy which is used in the treatment of leprosy.
As a result, by the time Bhola was eight his fingers started to curl and stiffen. For Bhola, something as simple as holding his pen to write became more and more difficult.
I used to study, but because of leprosy I couldn’t hold a pen properly. I was ashamed of my hands.
At school when I couldn’t hold a pen my teacher would get angry with me. The other children would tease me a lot. So I left school
Leprosy had also affected the nerves on Bhola’s left foot which made it difficult for him to walk.
Lepra provided me with special shoes and medicines. Because of this I am completely cured. And can even walk on my own.
Bhola has long been cured of leprosy and has learned to live with his disabilities, but he is still discriminated against and marked out for being different.
Now 13 years old, he will soon have surgery to straighten his fingers and to lift his foot. He will also undergo several sessions of physiotherapy pre- and post-surgery so that his hands and foot are fully functional again.
We recently visited Bhola to see how he was getting on. Now 17 years old he still continues to visit our Munger Referral Centre for footwear, self-care demonstrations and physiotherapy. He owns a mobile shop which helps him to support his family and although he’d benefit from surgery to his foot, he cannot be away from home while he looks after seven members of his family. We are working with him to find a way that allows him to have the surgery more locally.