“I am still alive.”
Today, Sangeeta gives thanks for her life, despite navigating the terrible effects of leprosy and crushing stigma from her family and community.
Sangeeta is a member of Nepal’s Sada caste, who are frequently outcasts in their communities. Her husband and father-in-law spent much of the family’s income on alcohol, so Sangeeta worked as a farm laborer to help support her children.
When she first visited our Christian partner, Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital, in 2020, Sangeeta stayed for a month for ulcer treatment. Years before, she didn’t finish a full course of the MDT drugs that cure leprosy, so she has a lot of numbness in her limbs and difficulty with her eyes. Despite these hardships, Sangeeta was thrilled to return to her children after the ulcer healed.
But soon, things got worse for Sangeeta and her family.
In 2022, Sangeeta developed another ulcer on her right foot. It looked and smelled so bad that her neighbors drove her out of the village, down to the river where the dead are cremated. They urged Sangeeta’s husband to poison her, then punished him when he didn’t. Abandoned by the village and her husband, Sangeeta nearly starved, but managed to escape and make her way back to Lalgadh.
This time, Sangeeta stayed at Lalgadh much longer, recovering from her physical and emotional trauma. Although her eldest daughter accompanied her, she went months without seeing her other children.
The team at Lalgadh recognized that Sangeeta needed more than a medical intervention to make a lasting difference in her life. Like American Leprosy Missions, Lalgadh is dedicated to healing the whole person, in body and soul.
As Sangeeta continued to recover, two of Lalgadh’s community development staff accompanied her to visit her village.
When they arrived, they found that Sangeeta’s family had no food in the house (bottom photo), and they had been banned from the public water tap. Lalgadh’s staff knew these issues were only symptoms of the larger problem: they spent time educating the villagers about leprosy and how they can support Sangeeta’s return (top photo). This education is the foundation for Sangeeta to build a life where she is accepted, not ostracized like she was in the past.
Lalgadh Hospital and our other Christian hospital partners demonstrate every day what it means to work toward “zero leprosy”: not just medicine and treatment, but restoration to a whole and healthy life. With partners like Lalgadh and faithful supporters like you, we are providing hope and healing for thousands of people like Sangeeta!