The facts:

In the district of Bogra in Bangladesh we are running a one year project to further develop the the Lepra self-help groups that were set up by a previous project.

The groups are made up of people affected by leprosy who meet twice a month to learn various different skills and to discuss their rights and the issues of discrimination they face.

The groups also have a collective fund that each member is able to take a loan from to help them to start a small business using the skills they have learnt. This helps that person and their family live a better life without the worry that their disease will mean a life of poverty.

The aim:

With this project it is hoped that by the end the groups we have been able to establish will be able to sustain themselves and no longer need Lepra. 

We hope to help the groups form an official federation that will be able to ensure that individuals affected by neglected diseases are not shunned from society. The aim is for the federation members to work together with other associations to abolish discriminatory laws and practice. Overall we hope to reduce stigma.

What exactly are we doing?

To end the stigma associated with diseases like leprosy and LF we are helping existing self-help groups to form their own federation and advocate for their rights. A strong federation enables the community to have a strong foundation on the district level, unifying their voices to express needs and rights.

Already they are applying for certain grants to which they are entitled, e.g. disability grants or widow grants but as an official federation the hope is that once the Lepra project ends they can carry on.

Over the next year we will help prepare the groups become an official federation so that one day they can implement community-based leprosy management services.

How you can help?

There are many ways you could further support our self-help groups in Bangladesh and help us in the next phase of our work. Just £9 could support a self-help group in learning new skills.