The leprosy village, Nabakusthashram, is situated very near to Dabar.
We provide fifty kg of rice per month plus free medical services and medicines to the village. We have donated a cycle riksha to provide transport when they need to visit hospital. We have also supplied with a water pump for irrigation so they are now able to grow vegetable for their own use and they now even produce enough that they have a little extra to sell.
The government has steadily reduced and recently completely withdrawn its financial assistance so the villagers will now have to rely on us to make up for the loss of this aid in future.
Nabakusthashram is situated on the banks of the river Kansai, about 2 kilometer from Dabar. It is a very old village, established as a refuge by Christian missionaries at the time the British were ruling India. The missionaries then also set up a leprosy hospital in the same district.
In those days leprosy was an incurable disease. People who contracted it were banished from society and forced to live alone in the forest or on the banks of the river. People then had little knowledge about leprosy and they were very much afraid of this disease.
And this fear is still very widespread today. It is certainly worth pointing out that leprosy is not highly contagious. In fact even people coming into regular and close contact with sufferers very, very rarely contract it. And there are now proven treatments which can usually cure the disease. However, early diagnosis is difficult. The lingering fear we have may perhaps be explained by the consequences, the sometimes horrific disfigurements, suffered by its victims before they can get treatment.
As well as creating this village for the leprosy victims, the British government also provided medicine, treatment, food, and other basic essentials through the leprosy hospital. The government also donated agricultural lands to the village to help them to survive.
These were the conditions existing from 1948 to 1980. After that very good medicines to treat leprosy were developed and a leprosy awareness programme was carried out over the whole of India. As a consequence the number of the leprosy victims started to decrease. However the government gradually began to eliminate the lifeline they had been providing to the lepers, reducing its contribution to food, medicine and other essential support.
A present there are 19 females and 29 males in the leprosy village. They are permanent residents. All are old and not physically strong. Most of them have been cured but, because they are not accepted back into their family home, they have to stay in this village. As the government support has been reduced, and now withdrawn, it has become impossible to obtain food, medicine and other essentials.
These people are now waiting to die. A few good hearted people do supply them with food, but it is not enough to sustain them.