Vinod, India

Our Jagruti WASH + NTDs project with LEPRA Society provides valuable resources for local communities in India’s Bihar state. Local women trained as community resource people (CRPs) connect with their neighbors affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) like leprosy so they can receive care. The CRPs also advocate with local officials to address water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) concerns.

This year, the Jagruti (Sanskrit for “awakening”) project began a
pilot with 20 small business owners who suffer severe disability from leprosy or lympatic filariasis (LF). These business owners receive a $300 grant in three installments, in addition to business training.

We first met Vinod, one of these business owners, last spring. He lives with LF disability that impacts his daily life and self-esteem; during the first business training in January 2023, Vinod brought his wife so he wouldn’t have to talk to anyone.

On a recent trip to Bihar, we met Vinod and his wife again, this time at Vinod’s welding shop. We learned that not only is Vinod interacting more with people since the business training, but his health has improved significantly! After learning about self-care practices from the Jagruti CRPs, he faithfully followed these steps at home and has not had an LF attack in nine months. The swelling on his leg has also reduced significantly.

Vinod’s wife says that the self-care education, business management training and financial support completely changed Vinod’s outlook. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! Everything about this project is good!”

Combining his first grant installment with his savings, Vinod was able to purchase a new gas cylinder for his shop (orange equipment in the photo). “This cylinder is worth $320,” Vinod told us. “Without the first grant installment, I don’t know if I could have ever afforded it.”

Vinod is engaging more with his customers, opening and closing the shop at the same times every day, and making plans for how to expand the business. He and his wife inherited the shop from Vinod’s father, but it has never had a sign or a name: with a new vision for their future, now they want to name the shop after their son!

We look forward to introducing you to more of these courageous people in the pilot project. Your investment in these small businesses shows people with severe disability that they are seen and valued, that they can take care of themselves.

Join us in praying for Vinod and the other business owners: that their hearts would be encouraged and full of hope for the future!