A mission of my life, Anony Samy . . . .
|Coming from a village background (in Tamil Nadu, a State in South India), I had an opportunity to do my higher studies in the field Sociology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in mid seventies. During my internship, I happened to work with people affected by leprosy in a self settled leprosy colony in the outskirts of Mumbai through a NGO (Lok Seva Sangam) working for leprosy.|
I was aghast by the fact that how people affected by leprosy who are exiled from their family and hometown, took shelter in shanty lands, make a hard survival for livelihood by begging on the streets and brewing illicit liquor. At that time, people affected by leprosy were treated as an outcast by our own society and they were denied access to basic civic facilities and to healthcare and services for them as well as their families.
Terribly moved by the plight of the people affected by leprosy, I decided to commit my life for the welfare of people affected by leprosy. During internship, I made some progress by starting leprosy clinics (out-patient) in the normal community and gradually integrated them with the general hospitals and health centres in Mumbai.
For the first time in Mumbai, several people affected by leprosy received leprosy treatment at the public health system without any discrimination. Having seen its outcome, I felt the need to extend this ‘service’ model in a wider area to benefit larger section of population, especially poor communities living in slums of Mumbai.
However, I realized that I cannot do this task alone and I decided to join hands with more people in this long fight against leprosy. So, I established ALERT-INDIA a NGO, in 1978 with the help of a few liked-minded friends from the field of social science and medical in the Board.
In earlier days, people were reluctant to work for leprosy due to the prevailing stigma and I faced with the problem of building and sustaining a team of healthcare workers. With all courage, I handpicked a few youngsters, both men and women, from the slums and leprosy colonies, convinced them to do leprosy relief work, sponsored for formal training in leprosy and engaged in leprosy control work.
In 1981, we began our leprosy work in slums of Mumbai and with the sustained support from several national and international donors, gradually extended our reach to millions of people living in 15 rural and tribal districts of Maharashtra.
Even after 4 decades long journey, my life is intertwined with serving those unfortunate people afflicted by communicable diseases who gave me more strength and vigour to glimpse India free of leprosy in the near future. Every day, I begin a new innings towards leprosy work with love, courage and endurance . . .