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Learn from the Least : Read this at the original blog by Sulekha:
I met this leprosy affected person at Champa in Chattisgarh, India. Observing her life for a couple of hours challenged me. Story and pictures: Philipose Vaidyar
Rejected by her husband, parting her older child, Maharmati learned to cope with life like a leper. Her father supplied her some basic vessels for cooking and occasionally visited her with some financial assistance for a few months. Before he got a transfer and moved from the native place, he insisted her to make a living on her own. She started some rice business in the colony with the extra money her father had left her with.
Thirty years after, sitting inside her grocery shop in the colony, she narrated her story in bits and pieces as customers came, one after the other with their home needs.
The settlement known as Gogranalla Colony has people from different regions and language background. They or any of their parents had made their way to Champa decades ago for leprosy treatment and made their home here. They made their huts in the nearby land and over the years that followed, migrating ‘birds of the same feather’ flocked here. There are over 1,200 households and about 600 people carrying visible marks of a long affected disease.
The little boy who wants a toffee and the girl sent by her mother for shampoo, mothers who were in the middle of cooking the evening meal, the tailor who wanted a matching thread for the blouse to stitch; all were part of her customers in a brief time.
Mohramati, as a sick person under treatment, also had to earn for living, taking care of herself and her little son. “Those days, everybody in the colony had ulcers”, speaking about her little son, she pointed across the street. “All these areas used to be full of litter and when my son started walking, he used to play with those thrown away bandages. It was good to send him away to his father. He was one and half year old then”.
She continued her heart breaking story; her husband married again, but her father and later her children did visit her. But now Gogranalla is her home and its dwellers her dear ones. Living alone, she still saves some money to support her children.
For leprosy care, Mohramati has become an opinion leader in the village. During the CADIP Project’s (Community Awareness, Disability Impairment Prvention by The Leprosy Mission Trust in India) feasibility study, Mohramati’s inputs were very important and strategic towards self care training. She has a ‘voice on behalf of the leprosy affected’ and she leads four different Self Care Groups. She visits the sick and the needy and counsels them. When people from the colony or elsewhere are uncomfortable to access the hospital, she leads their way, and her references are always well attended at the hospital. CADIP had drawn lessons from Moharmati on Self Care Groups, business ventures and on several other components. She has been a voluntary helper for all the community projects which came in to the colony. She is a good ‘advocate’ and had mobilized more than 45 people for the ID camp and led most of them to the Disability Mela conducted at the early period of CADIP project in the district.