Jaseem, 22, was diagnosed with leprosy in 2008 after noticing swelling in his hands and feet. He was treated at The Leprosy Mission's Naini Hospital, undergoing surgery.

But on returning to his village, Jaseem started to experience stigma. People refused to sit near him and his schoolfriends no longer wanted anything to do with him. He even experienced stigma from his own family - relatives wanted to know how he would ever find someone that would want to marry him. Living in a close-knit village, the sense of rejection Jaseem feels is particularly strong.

Jaseem has been looking for work but has so far been unsuccessful, despite having had training in repairing mobile phones. He feels the stigma of leprosy and disability has contributed to this.

"We should not be discarded by others. People with leprosy have the right to live in this society as happy people," he said.

Jaseem wants things to change for people affected by leprosy. A Leprosy Champion to come alongside him and help change attitudes in his community could make a big difference.


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