Known and Loved More than Skin Deep.
Leprosy is no joke in India. Jayraman and Madathesri would know. Both have had leprosy for around 30 years. In India, leprosy is not just a disease. It’s viewed as a curse from the gods. The person infected with leprosy becomes the disease, not just a person battling it. There is intense prejudice and little care given to those with leprosy. They are left to live in isolation because no one wants to be around them. They are considered “untouchables” in society. They are neglected. Rejected. Ignored. Unwanted. Abandoned. Left to themselves with no help or treatment.
Because of the lack of care, Jayraman and Madathesri’s physical condition has only gotten worse. Jayraman has experienced a loss of vision, and his arms and hands are affected. Madathesri’s hands have been affected the most, and she can hardly use her fingers.
The two of them have been married for about eight years now, and have a beautiful and healthy son and daughter in elementary school, hoping to complete their education. But achieving this goal is difficult when there are requirements for school fees to be paid, and they don’t have enough money to do so.
Because of the neglect and stigma they face in society, no one wants to hire them. Even if someone did hire them, they couldn’t work because their leprosy has gotten so bad that their hands cannot complete tasks, at least with ease. They are dependent on money or donations from others for their needs or are forced to pull from their slim savings.
Right now, some of their greatest needs include food and surgeries to treat the effects of their leprosy. Through the help of The Hope Venture’s Medical Kit Project, Jayraman and Madathesri have received medical supplies, clothing, and groceries in the medical kits they were given. These items are simple, and while they might not completely cure their leprosy, it shows that they are cared for and provides assistance to them when nobody else will. Another big piece of giving care to them came from Martin, a volunteer for the Medical Kit Project.
One day, he saw Jayraman walking along the road outside. Martin ran out, his feet frantically trying to place themselves back under himself, picking up pace as he rushed to meet Jayraman. Martin’s cheeks were tight from the big smile lighting up his face. He gently placed his arm around Jayraman’s shoulders as he came to greet him. Martin was not afraid to touch Jayraman, to be in his presence. Both of the men’s faces were beaming as they talked, displaying an excitement of connection—just one of the many ways Jayraman has found belonging and community.
Jayraman and Madathesri have been able to experience a pocket of community where they are no longer the outcasts of society. They aren’t neglected—they are cared for. They aren’t rejected—they are cherished for the humans that they are. They aren’t unwanted—they are welcomed with open arms. They aren’t abandoned—they have people coming alongside them and around them to help them out.
It’s in moments like this that hope is so vibrant for them. To be known and accepted as they are in their medical condition is evidence of the love poured out for them. Some of the steps taken to help them have been small, but it’s in these small steps that they see the realness of the love and acceptance they are being embraced with.