Every year we enable thousands of children from leprosy-affected families to go to school. One of the schemes we fund is a child education project in Cabo Delgado, the north-easterly province of Mozambique called Iphiro Yohoolo. Its purpose is to get leprosy-affected children, orphans and children with disabilities into school and encourage them to achieve their full potential.
Most people in Cabo Delgado are subsistence farmers, often living in terrible poverty. Good quality education is one way to break the cycle and help future generations to succeed. Without our help, families there could not afford to send their children to school. With the head start provided by an education, these children can now look forward to better job prospects.
Social stigma attached to leprosy and disabilities caused by the disease are huge obstacles to a young person succeeding in life. Tragically many are reduced to begging as a way of feeding themselves and their families. The Leprosy Mission runs vocational training centres which are connected to local businesses for work placements to provide young people with the training they need to do a skilled job.
Aspirations among young people affected by leprosy are usually low with most being more than happy to take a job as a road sweeper. At the vocational training centres students are taught skills such as motor mechanics, radio and television repairs, computing, tailoring, handicrafts and small business management so that they are highly employable or have the training needed to set up their own small businesses.
We nurture self-sufficiency by providing business loans to people affected by leprosy so that they have the means to establish a small enterprise. We received a grant from the European Commission to part-fund a livelihood project for people affected by leprosy and disability in Bangladesh.