Mangla, the eldest daughter in her family in Maharashtra, India, was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. Her father, who wanted a son as his first-born, tried to give her away to an orphanage, and only changed the plan due to her mother’s persistent pleading. When Mangla was one year old, at her mother’s insistence, she was given surgery to correct her cleft lip.
As if her father’s hatred wasn’t enough, Mangla was diagnosed with leprosy when she was in 10th standard. "I cried a lot when I was told that I had leprosy. My mother asked me not to tell this to anyone. And my father hated me even more," says Mangla. When, overwhelmed by what life had thrown at her, Mangla failed in her school exams, her father didn’t talk to her for six months. He wanted her to leave the house because her sisters’ marriage prospects would be affected because of Mangla’s leprosy.
With a friend’s encouragement, Mangla joined TLM’s Vocational Training Centre (VTC) in Nashik, Maharashtra, and completed a two-year secretarial course. Such was the love and care she got in the VTC, she decided not to go home. She joined a private firm, but wanted to go back to the VTC to work. "God heard my prayers; I returned to work as office assistant and girls’ hostel warden in Nashik VTC", says Mangla. "Nashik VTC was the turning point in my life. I decided not to bow down before the challenges in life. I knew leprosy and other problems couldn’t stop me from making a career and having a life I wanted."
Today, Mangla is a happy woman. She has completed two university degrees and now works in the administrative department of TLM’s Kothara Hospital. She’s married and has a five-year-old daughter. "I knew God would give me the strength to face life bravely. He guided my every step and helped me to be successful. On seeing my success, my father had a change of heart. God brought me honour in front of my father. Now I’m his pet! He wants to live with me," says Mangla, with a smile lighting up her face.