Two days empowerment meet in Bhopal



NC Network, Bhopal
As part of its advocacy program, Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation organized two days Empowerment meet for the residents of leprosy colonies of Madhya Pradesh to enable them to access existing government welfare schemes. On day one of the Empowerment meet Chief Guest, Mr. Rustam Singh, (Cabinet Minister), Public Health & Family Welfare, committed to solve the issue of pension after consulting with the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Currently in Madhya Pradesh these people are getting Rs 300 per month as pension while in states like Uttar Pradesh they receive Rs 2500, In Andhra Pradesh Rs 1500, Bihar Rs 2100, and In Delhi Rs 1800, in Maharashtra Rs 1600, in Tamil Nadu Rs 1000 and in Telangana beneficiaries get Rs 1500.

On day two, the Chief guest Vishwas Sarang, State Minister, Panchayat & Rural development co-operation, Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation,  interacted with persons affected with leprosy and addressed issues related to land entitlements and land pattas .He promised he will speak to Chief Minister tomorrow itself regarding land patta. He also spoke to Indore collector soon after the Empowerment meet regarding the land issues faced by the people residing in colonies and assured them that he will provide them equal rights.

There are around 965 people suffering from Leprosy Madhya Pradesh and living in 33 colonies. 3,700 peoplelive in these 33 colonies .Most of these leprosy-affected people who stay in colonies neither have BPL cards nor land ownership. They are unable to access any benefits under the Indira Awas Yojana, Anganwadi schemes and others. This Empowerment Meet is aimed to resolve these issues by giving them access to the Minister and give them the opportunity to directly share their needs with decision-makers.

Addressing the issue Dr.Vineeta Shanker, Executive Director, Sasakawa-India Leprosy foundation said, it is not only important to provide opportunities to people affected by leprosy but equally important to empower them to know about their rights and fight for them. Empowering them means they can be self-reliant and also help others to bring change in the lives”.

Context and additional Information:
Though easily treatable, leprosy still strikes fear in a country like India. Lack of knowledge about leprosy has led to the perpetration of misinformation and misconceptions resulting in a deep rooted and widespread stigma against the disease and those affected. The negative perception of the disease is manifested in discrimination against and exclusion of not only the leprosy-affected but also their families. Often they are denied their basic human rights. Residents of leprosy colonies are unable to access the several welfare measures offered by the governments due to lack of knowledge and awareness on part of both the affected and the local Government officials. S-ILF informs them of the different schemes available and helps them to identify the schemes under which they can seek support. It also trains them on writing petitions and seeking meetings with concerned officials. These workshops, conducted with help of local NGO partners, focus on building capacity of participants and prepare them take up their petitions on their own.

ABOUT SASAKAWA-INDIA LEPROSY FOUNDATION:

Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation (S-ILF) was instituted in November 2006, with inspiration from Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy eradication. The Foundation’s mission is to end the stigma against the disease and ensure equal social, economic and cultural opportunities for those affected by increasing their social acceptability through dissemination of scientific information. The Foundation aims to make a difference in the lives of persons affected by leprosy and their families all across the country. It is moving ahead on the lines of its mission and vision of integrating persons affected by leprosy into mainstream society by ensuring equal social, economic and cultural opportunities for them. The Foundation is guided by an eminent board, which has Tarun Das, Former Mentor CII, as its Chairman.

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