Avnish

Avnish grew up in a leprosy community in Chhattisgarh, due to the fact that his father had the disease.

From a young age, he learned about the challenges facing people with leprosy and the way they are discriminated against. As he got older, Avnish's healthy hands meant he was able to offer important help to his community.

Being able to write meant that Avnish was often called on to write letters and fill out official forms on behalf of those affected by leprosy who could not do so themselves. He soon became an important voice in the village.

In 2007, Avnish became involved with The Leprosy Mission when he attended a seminar on self-help groups. He was also diagnosed with leprosy, although early treatment meant he was left with no lasting effects.

Through the Challenging Anti-Leprosy Legislation (CALL) project, Avnish began to do more to challenge discrimination. One issue affecting the community was the requirement for all those wishing to access disability benefits and food rations to own a government ID card. To get one of these cards, a person must supply ten fingerprints as part of their application - something that presents a clear barrier to people affected by leprosy who may have severely disabled hands.

Avnish campaigned to local government and as a result, learned that he could request use of a palm scanner as an alternative to supplying fingerprints. Now, residents of his community can claim the benefits they are entitled to, meaning they don't have to beg to survive. He has also recently had success in campaigning for accessible toilets to be built in the village.

The new Leprosy Champions trained through the CREATE project will help their own communities just like Avnish has done, transforming lives with lasting change.


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