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Real life stories

Jeba Khatun's story


Jeba Khatun

Jeba Khatun is age 43 and lives in a village in the Pabna District of Bangladesh. 

At the age of 18, shortly after getting married, Jeba started showing symptoms such as white patches appearing on her skin. She was soon referred to a local clinic, where she discovered she had leprosy.  

The social and emotional impact of her diagnosis caused her a great deal of anguish, in what must have felt like a helpless situation. She was abandoned by her husband and was facing isolation within her community.

It was a dark time for Jeba, which left her coping with not just the physical implications of a leprosy diagnosis, but also a deterioration of her mental health, resulting in severe anxiety and depression. 

With ongoing support from Lepra, Jeba managed to overcome her diagnosis. She later remarried and started a family with her new husband. She now has two wonderful children of which she is immensely proud. 

In 2014, Jeba joined her local ‘Federation of People Affected by Leprosy’, which gave her an opportunity to help other people within the community who are also facing hardship as a result of their leprosy diagnosis.

She had found her new calling in life, and soon trained to become a ’Mental Motivator counsellor’ for Lepra. This enabled her to provide emotional support for many more people who are struggling with their mental health following a leprosy diagnosis. 

In 2023, Jeba became the President of Pabna District Federation, which brings together over 111 self-support groups, representing the most vulnerable communities in central Bangladesh.

Jeba says she is happy to have followed her dream and can now help even more people affected by leprosy come through the emotional impact of their diagnosis. More recently, Jeba has also become a guest speaker at events such as the ‘National Conference for People Affected by Leprosy’ held in Dhaka, speaking about her incredible journey of recovery. 

She has found the power of her voice, which she now uses to advocate for neglected members of the community, who are also experiencing the physical and social implications of leprosy.


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