Inspired by a Catholic priest, some 400 leprosy patients and their medical staff have donated 100,000 rupees (US$2,273) to aid victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March as a way of saying thank you.
Patients at the Sumanahalli ('village of people of good will') center, a treatment and rehabilitation facility run in Bangalore archdiocese for people suffering from leprosy, contributed the amount to Japan’s Nippon Foundation yesterday.
The foundation has been a major sponsor of multi drug therapy (MDT), an important treatment for the disease.
India is a major beneficiary because it accounts for more than half the world’s leprosy cases, said Father George Kannanthanam, director of Sumanahalli.
“I am able to live today only because of the medicines given by Japan. I want to give back whatever I can,” said Gurappan, a patient of the centre.
From his pension of 400 rupees per month, he contributed 500 rupees.
In another touching gesture, Mohan, 45, who is blind, contributed 1,000 rupees, a whole month's pension.
Mohan, who usually uses the money for his annual trip home, said: “My life was saved due to the MDT."
The Sumanahalli society, started in 1978, treats some 400 people suffering from leprosy, HIV or other diseases All the society’s 250-plus staff have also pledged to donate one day’s earnings.
Some local schoolchildren collected around 2,000 rupees. One of the staff came forward to donate her entire month’s salary and a convent in the campus saved 30,000 rupees by cancelling a feast.
“There are those without any pension who contributed just 10 to 20 rupees. They also put in whatever they could”, said the priest, who initiated a similar campaign after the last tsunami that hit Indian shores in 2004.
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