Rayala was diagnosed with leprosy in 2006, but his troubles continued for almost 10 years after his diagnosis. A leprosy diagnosis carries widespread discrimination and prejudice, often disrupting people’s lives, tearing families apart and causing immense stress and isolation for the people affected. Rayala developed issues with his left foot during treatment, resulting in muscle weakness; he was unable to walk properly. His fingers also began to claw and curl, and he was powerless to use his right hand. With the exception of his father, his family abandoned him because of these disfigurements.
Rayala’s father died shortly after his diagnosis, leaving him completely alone, with no income and severe disabilities. His mental health deteriorated as a result of the extreme isolation. Rayala felt he had already been forced to sacrifice so much, in particular his dignity. He took to begging on the streets just to survive. His wider family refused to acknowledge him whenever they passed him, offering no support.
Thankfully, Lepra staff were in the local area, actively searching for new cases of leprosy. They spotted Rayala, who was in a very poor physical state and helped him, providing him with basic necessities, ensuring he had food and clean water while also assessing his disabilities. The team provided him with specialised footwear, enabling him to walk unaided. He also began attending disability camps, where he learned how to care for himself and also how to tackle his mental health issues.
Rayala was referred for reconstructive surgery on his hand, and he also underwent physiotherapy. Our holistic approach to treatment provided Rayala with many different ways to deal with his issues, including footwear, surgery, physiotherapy and mental health counselling.
Rayala’s confidence increased tenfold; he even felt strong enough to became a mentor and educator, travelling to villages to discuss leprosy with residents and explain the signs and symptoms. He now works with Lepra, referring people affected by leprosy and lymphatic filariasis for treatment. He also helps others access government schemes and services for people affected by leprosy and campaigns for recognition of their rights.
Despite having been forced to give up so many things in his lifetime, things you and I take for granted, with your continued support Rayala has completely turned his life around and is on his way to becoming a successful entrepreneur with his own shop, selling food and drink to his local community.
Rayala wishes to take this opportunity to send a personal thank you for your ongoing support.