Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation appeals to end stigma and discrimination on World Leprosy Day

Felicitated three entrepreneurs running successful livelihood enterprises in leprosy colonies

Online PR News – 31-January-2013 – New Delhi, January 30, 2013 – Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation (SILF) today observed World Leprosy Day in commemoration of the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi. Led by WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, SILF has been striving for the integration of leprosy cured people and their families into society by ending the stigma and discrimination faced by them.

Organized under the leadership of Dr. Vineeta Shanker, Executive Director of SILF, the function witnessed the participation from over 120 political leaders, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, academicians, health and social workers and many beneficiaries of the education, capacity building and livelihood programmes spearheaded by SILF.

The key highlight of the ceremony was the “Rising to Dignity Awards 2013”,which were given away by the Guest of Honor, Mr. Dinesh Trivedi, former Minister of Railways and convener of an informal group of Parliamentarians to fight the stigma against Leprosy. Each year SILF recognizes three of the best livelihood initiatives of groups living in leprosy colonies. This year the awardees were a women’s group from Odisha who were successfully running a goat rearing enterprise; a group from Allahabad who moved from begging to selling small puja items and cosmetics; the third group from Kolhapur Maharashtra had set up a very successful business of masonry and tiling work.
Other guests on the dais were Mr. Madhu Goud Yaskhi, Member of Parliament and Co-convener of the Group of Parliamentarians to fight stigma against leprosy; Mr. B. Sriram, Deputy Managing Director of State Bank of India, which donated the award money this year; and Prof. M. S. Swaminathan, Member, Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests under whose recommendation India embarked on the National Leprosy Eradication Program in 1983.

The program included a message from Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General against discrimination based on leprosy and a performance by a group of underprivileged children directed and choreographed by Ms. Devika Anand Puri, a philanthropist working for the cause of less privileged children of Delhi-Gurgaon. The performance was based on the disability anthem of Badhte Kadam, a flagship program by the National Trust for generating awareness and sensitizing citizens about the rights of persons with disability.