"I lived with fears and a trembling heart."
These were the words of 16-year-old Raja from Sri Lanka, who was diagnosed with leprosy in 2017 along with his parents. For them too, the diagnosis brought fear, darkness and isolation into their lives. Raja's dream of becoming a teacher was dashed in an instant as a discriminatory law banned leprosy sufferers from attending school. This is, of course, a completely wrong approach, because there is no justification for it. But there was no getting out of it. Both Raja and his parents were excluded from community life.
Hope was brought to them by the staff of the Lepramism Mission and the CCM (the partner organisation of the Lepramism Mission in Sri Lanka). They reached out to the family with compassionate love, introduced them to "leprosy champions" (former leprosy patients who become helpers) and provided them with the support they needed. The recovery of Raja and his family has begun. He is now back in Grade 10, back on the path to realising his dream.
That is why we need to fight discrimination, stigma and exclusion, because that is how we can give a happy future to those who are still suffering today!