NGO ropes in school students to help a cause
It won't be an exaggeration to say that the sight of a leprosy patient can move heavily anaesthetisd persons, probably turn mountains into pulp and send rock solid hearts weeping profusely. Still, how many of us can be the light of leprosy sufferers like Baba Amte? Thanks to NGOs like Indian Development Foundation formerly Indian Leprosy Foundation, that has been trying to make a difference. The organisation, celebrating its 25 years of service, recently tied up with six of the city schools to carry forward the cause.
Its national coordinator, Narayan B. Iyer, recently in city, shares the success and predicament of less talked about, most suffered about disease. Having been into the cause for seventeen years and since class eleventh, he definitely can tell more than we can ask.
So what is the current leprosy situation in India? He says, "Way back in 1972 there were 40 lakh leprosy cases which has now come down to about 60, 000." Not a small feat considering the obstacles a diverse and resilient country like India can pose. As Narayan says, "The problem of lack of awareness amongst masses is compounded by the fact, there's a social stigma attached to it."
He further says, "Also, it's a visible disease, so the acceptability is not much." So among the initiatives adopted, raising awareness topped the list. He says, "Earlier, the patients were not going to the doctors because of fear. There was a time when there were hospitals and beds but no patients came."
The organisation believes in the power of engaging youth in any development activity. As he says, "We've been holding capsule programmes for students of schools and colleges. Currently, we have a chain of 10,000 schools in India." He adds, "Raising awareness and tapping students is the best medium to achieve our goals." Does he feel today's youth have a bent towards philanthropy? Answers Narayan, "There's been a transformation, realisation of social values and they are a spirited lot." Reason enough to hope leprosy to be non-repeating history. — TNS
courtesy : The Tribune, Chandigarh - 15th Dec.08