REHABILITATION FOR LEPROSY PATIENTS
Respected Late Shri Bapusaheb M. Deshmukh has set an example of what social service can do for the suffering humanity. He followed his passion relentlessly of selfless social work to help people in need particularly his work for the rehabilitation and empowerment of people suffering from leprosy. He dedicated his entire life and made immense efforts for rendering service to the poor and needy people in order to improve their social conditions in the society.
Today medical science has made promising and successful development in curing of almost all deadly diseases but back in those days, due to the lack of medical facilities and proper knowledge, the diseases were very rampant which lead to higher death rates specially in villages. One of the chronic infectious diseases being ‘LEPROSY’.
Leprosy is most common amongst impoverished or marginalized populations where social stigma is likely to be compounded by other social inequities. Fears of ostracism, loss of employment, or expulsion from family and society may contribute to a delayed diagnosis and treatment. Leprosy is equated with an "untouchable" status that "often persists long after individuals with leprosy have been cured of the disease.
Folk beliefs, lack of education, and religious connotations of the disease influenced social perceptions, ruled people’s mind which led negative attitude towards the affected person. Skin discoloration and darker pigmentation resulting from the disease also had social repercussions.
Born in an affluent family, Shri Bapusaheb Deshmukh was always troubled seeing this inhuman treatment of the people suffering from Leprosy. He took a decision to dedicate his entire life for the welfare of the society. By 1935, he established a Leprosy Centre in a small village named ‘Kashikhed’, a place where lepers could be cured and rehabilitated. At that time there were 400 people suffering from this deadly disease in the village itself. Shri Bapusaheb took the financial responsibility of the medical treatments. He worked diligently in raising awareness of the disease and imparted knowledge of overcoming this disease thus generating a sense of relief and joy among the patients and their families.
Shri Bapusaheb then opened a Government permitted Rehabilitation centre which provided for the full time residency of the patients, taking care of their medical needs. The Rehabilitation center provided arrangements of living, food and medical needs for around 50 patients. Back in the day the villages lacked the basic infrastructure of transportations and electricity. He faced many hardships and had to walk on foot for miles, used oil lamps and bullock-carts. He wanted to show and create awareness that these people too could lead normal lives and become useful citizens. Living and dedicating his whole life for welfare of others, he was the voice for these people helping them to lead a life of dignity and independence.
Today, the Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre is striving hard and diligently working to continue the legacy left behind by
Shri Bapusaheb Deshmukh.
We provide opportunities
We endeavour to provide opportunities to leprosy affected people and their families, especially those living in segregated colonies, to move out of begging and dependence on donations and into self or wage employment.
We enhance capacities
To ensure sustainability of the move into a dignified livelihood, we focus on training and capacity building so that leprosy-affected people and their children are able to get employable skills for either self or wage employment.
We empower people
By providing them financial and technical support, by providing mentorship and guidance, ensuring transparent processes and accountability, by focusing on their strengths we work to empower leprosy-affected people and their families to stand on their own, and earn sustainable incomes and actively negotiate their inclusion in welfare schemes on their own.
We raise awareness
To counter the widespread misinformation about leprosy and the consequent persistence of stigma against the disease and the people affected by it, we raise awareness about the scientific facts about leprosy and bust the ancient myths still surrounding it. We reach out to different stakeholders with targeted messages in a bid to create “leprosy-free minds”.
We engage in Advocacy
To engage opinion and policymakers to speak for the rights and inclusion of leprosy-affected people; to ensure that they are included in the network of public services and welfare schemes and that the legal and social framework does not discriminate against them.