30-year-old Nakanthram is married with three children. He, his wife and his parents are all affected by leprosy and have experienced stigma because of it. They were not allowed to live in their home community. He says that by God’s grace they are now cured through regular medicine, care and good advice from Kaveri Kal Manram, a local organisation supported by The Leprosy Mission.
At the age of eight, Nakanthram was first displaced because of war and over 22 years the family were displaced 17 times. He tells his story:
"As a community we were living on barren, government land with no well or water facilities. If we wanted to bathe or drink we had to visit other communities but we faced a terrible experience. They wouldn’t give us drinking water or allow us to bathe with water from the well. We told our experiences to the government offices and they provided us with limited water facilities – but only for drinking.
"We decided that when we returned to our land we would establish our own water facilities. That dream has now been fulfilled. This year we have resettled. Mrs Siân Arulanantham, the Head of Programmes Co-ordination for The Leprosy Mission England and Wales, came to meet us. We told her about the difficulties we had faced especially our struggles with water because of leprosy. Now our village has twenty new wells. We are very glad for this.
"Every time we rise in the morning we can use our own water for going to the toilet, bathing, drinking and agriculture which is our livelihood. Before we could only wash once every 15 days or maybe even a month but now we can bathe every day. Not just any one would have given us this; it is uncommon for individual families to receive their own well. It is a great gift. There are now 150 families in our community and only 20 wells but we are sharing within the community. We thank The Leprosy Mission, we are grateful for its help."