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Brief History About the Leprosy Village:
“Nabakusthashram is situated on the banks of the river Kansai, about 2 kilometers 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.
At 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 As the government support has been reduced, and now withdrawn, it has become impossible to obtain food, medicine and other essentials.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.”
– Info taken from Prabhatalloi Foundation’s blog, which you can read here.
Updates to the above summary:
- Today the government provides them with only 10 kg of rice per month to sustain the 35-40 residents.
- Prabhatalloi Foundation provides additional rice as well as free medicine to residents.
- Two employees from Believer’s Church in Purulia town come several days a week to doctor and bandage wounds on their hands and feet, a result of damaged nerve endings caused by the disease. While the organization’s preaching to non-Christians is controversial, the aid is still appreciated and the work of these two doctors who apply bandages is particularly helpful to residents.
- PAF now pays a man in Purulia town to solicit on a loudhailer – essentially saying, if you are interested in donating to the needy, there is a very needy village just outside of Balarampur where they are grateful for any help. Through this means of solicitation the village is supplied with additional food.
- In January 2017 we began digging deeper into the history of Nabakustashram. We have since published two segments on our blog, which you can find here:
- While sufficient food is currently being provided, no one has taken the initiative to make improvements to the buildings which have been neglected for the last several decades. In January 2017 PAF began working on their buildings as well as providing electricity and running water. In this time much has been accomplished. However there is still much more to be done in order to attain satisfactory living conditions.
If you can spare any contributions, a little money goes a long way here: