Sisir Tamang is five years old and comes from Nuwakot district in Nepal. His mother Laxmi works as a cleaner and his father Ghaman is a security guard. When Sisir was just three years of age, a few patches appeared on both his hands and legs. Unaware about leprosy, his parents thought Sisir had had an allergic reaction to dirty water. Eventually he was brought to TLM Nepal’s Anandaban Patan clinic, in the urban part of Lalitpur, where he was diagnosed with leprosy.
Sisir’s mother Laxmi was shocked about the diagnosis. She discovered that Sisir’s father had also been diagnosed with leprosy but had been hiding his condition due to the stigma that still exists in Nepal regarding the disease. Laxmi was crushed. She was frightened for her son and also deeply sad that her husband did not trust her enough to confide in her.
Laxmi worried continuously about her son and husband. What if the disease was contagious? What would society say about her family? So Anandaban Hospital’s counsellor Ruth spent some time with Laxmi educating her about leprosy and also providing counselling to handle the situation at home with her husband.
Sisir is studying well in school and would like to be a doctor. He has already had a year of medicine for leprosy. Laxmi is glad that both her husband and son were diagnosed and treated early so there is less chance of disability. "My family has received treatment and is healthy. That is what matters. We will deal with society (stigma) if we have to."
Anandaban Hospital’s in house counsellor Ruth Shrestha counsels just over 1,000 patients at Anandaban as well as people in TLM Nepal’s satellite clinics per year. She counsels people affected by leprosy as well as other patients, their families and community members.