Jibonnessa experienced real transformation in her life thanks to TLM Bangladesh.
Jibonnessa has severe physical impairments due to leprosy. She’d had leprosy for two or three years before she was diagnosed with the disease. By that time she had lost feeling in her feet, her left hand was ‘clawed’, the fingers of her right hand were shortened and she had ulcers on the soles of her feet.
But not only did Jibonnessa have to deal with this physical deterioration, she also faced anger and discrimination from her family and community. Her husband would beat her and her neighbours would not allow her to work with them or participate in any social activities. Finally her husband divorced her and told her to leave. In great distress, Jibonnessa returned to her parent’s home.
TLM’s Gaibandha Jaypurhat Leprosy Care project in Bangladesh came across Jibonnessa in 1995, when staff were visiting villages actively looking for leprosy cases. TLM provided her with Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT), physiotherapy and taught her ‘self-care’ (how to look after her hands and feet to prevent further ulcers or impairments). She was given protective footwear and gloves to protect her hands while cooking. And she was given counselling to help her overcome her distress at all that had happened to her. Gradually her life began to improve.
In 2004, TLM helped her to receive a government grant of 15,000taka (approx £135), something she was entitled to as a leprosy-disabled person. With this money Jibonnessa bought a cow and sold the milk. But selling milk did not provide her with enough income to look after her son and mother who both lived with her. So TLM provided her with a small loan so that she could start growing crops.
Now Jibonnessa and her family are able to eat three meals a day.
Thanks to TLM Bangladesh, Jibonnessa’s house has a sturdy tin roof. Jibonnessa no longer experiences stigma or discrimination – TLM staff visited her village and gave educational talks about leprosy, ensuring that people understood the facts about the disease.
Jibonnessa joined a community-based rehabilitation group in her village. Now she is the group leader. Then in 2009 and 2010 TLM Bangladesh provided Jibonnessa with short courses on business and group management training – this has built her confidence and knowledge as she develops her own business and continues to lead the community group.
TLM Bangladesh has played a vital role in transforming Jibonnessa’s life. As Jibonnessa’s improved circumstances show, TLM is concerned about the whole person, not just curing leprosy or attending to other physical needs.
Jibonnessa is now so positive about the future that she is planning to set up a petty shop with her son. And she is thankful to TLM Bangladesh for the way her life has improved so dramatically.Back to The Leprosy Mission World