Twenty-four year old Anuj Kumar is from a large family in Barethi village in India. In 2016, Anuj was studying for his BA degree when he noticed changes in the fingers on his left hand. There were no obvious skin symptoms of leprosy, so the doctor could not make the right diagnosis.
After a year, his condition worsened. In 2017 Anuj went to the district hospital in Sitapur for treatment and was diagnosed with leprosy.
His family was shocked to know about the diagnosis. They isolated him completely. He was made to sleep outside the house in the cowshed and provided food separately. He felt dejected, but he loved his family so much that he did not go anywhere, but hid himself and avoided neighbours and friends. He would hide his left hand while talking to people.
Thankfully, TLM’s CREATE project approached Anuj and recommended that he go to TLM’s Naini hospital for reconstructive surgery.
Following the surgery, Anuj was identified as a Champion for the CREATE project. The CREATE project empowers people affected by leprosy to become change agents and challenge and address the issues of leprosy-related stigma and discrimination.
With the support of the CREATE staff, Anuj has visited Lucknow and Sitapur for advocacy and leprosy awareness training. He has travelled to Raipur for Human Rights training and has received Champion training in Lucknow.
“I had lost the zest to live. But today I attend meetings and people shake my hand. It feels good. It’s like I have returned back to life. I owe this to TLM’s staff and to the CREATE project. I have suffered a lot and do not want others to go through the same. Now I am teaching the community about leprosy!”