Sudhi Ram lives in Delhi. Aged 50, he is married and has three children, aged 10, 14 and 16.
Sudhi Ram was 16 when he noticed a ‘strange numb sensation’ on his body and a lesion on his left leg - both are signs of leprosy. He was misdiagnosed by a local doctor and treated with natural remedies. After a year and a half, Sudhi Ram’s condition had failed to improve so he was referred to a Leprosy Mission hospital. There he received Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) to treat and cure leprosy.
Unfortunately, because his leprosy was not diagnosed early, Sudhi Ram’s limbs and eyesight have been permanently affected. He is unable to grasp properly with his fingers due to damaged muscles, which makes picking up objects difficult. Walking is a problem too as his feet do not feel and are very dry, so he is susceptible to cuts from rough ground surfaces. Small cuts can quickly become deep wounds and become infected.
Due to his disabilities, Sudhi Ram was unable to work. His wife had to take to the streets selling peanuts and working as a cleaner to keep the family surviving. Sudhi Ram describes the impact on his self-esteem of not being able to provide for his family-‘my emotional and mental state suffered because of my own self image’ he said.
With the support of The Leprosy Mission, Sudhi Ram found a new hope for life, the courage to overcome his circumstances and a desire to help others. He now works as a night-time security guard. He also volunteers as Community Development Organiser for TLM’s Integrated Community Development (ICD) Programme. This helps to integrate leprosy- and disability-affected people back into the community and works to break down stigma and discrimination. Sudhi Ram is dedicated to educating his community on how to be aware of the first signs of leprosy so that they can be treated early to avoid any permanent disabilities.