Patili Maya, Nepal

Patili StoryPatili Maya lives in a small village in rural Nepal. A few years ago, she started to notice a loss of feeling in her feet. They developed wounds that wouldn’t heal. Her hands slowly became paralyzed.

Eventually she was diagnosed with leprosy and received Multi-Drug Therapy. But she was left with the consequences of late diagnosis and treatment: extensive nerve damage, paralyzed hands, damaged feet. And, the terrible stigma. Patili Maya was reviled and rejected by her community. They were afraid of her. They hated her.

A long, stony path leads from Patili Maya’s village to the main road. This path provides the only access between the village and the outside world. When Patili Maya would walk up that path, people would hurl insults at her; they tried to block her way, to stop her from even using the path. She says, “People were very cruel and treated me with such hostility, but I was determined to use the path, determined that one day people would understand that I am a woman of value.

One day, Patili Maya was invited to join a self-help group. Our partner, Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital, has helped establish self-help groups so people affected by leprosy can have an opportunity to improve their livelihoods.

But the term “self-help” doesn’t fully reflect what Patili Maya’s group is really all about. Even though the members are poor and suffer from various disabilities, they are so much more than a group of people committed to pursuing self-interest.

Patili Maya’s group decided they wanted to undertake a project that would show that they cared for the well-being of the whole community. The same community that had shunned them.

After some discussion among the 24 members of the self-help group, a decision was reached. This group of poor, rejected people decided to improve the path to their village. The same stony path along which Patili Maya had struggled, suffering abuse from her community.

With picks and shovels, the self-help group worked to transform that stony path into a road; a road so that children could get to school more easily; a road so that villagers could get to the health post.

But that road not only gave the community better access to key services, it gave Patili Maya’s group access to the hearts and minds of the community.

No longer despised and rejected, now the members of the self-help group have become valued and respected members of the community.

With a huge smile on her face, Patili Maya says: “Through the rest of my life, I will be part of this group because this is where love is, here is where I find peace and joy. I know my home is in heaven, but until I reach that home I will find my happiness in this group.

Thank you for partnering with us to bring healing and hope to people like Patili Maya.