Home / Stories / Dhiraju Singh

Survival struggle with a hope of life with Dignity!

My name is Dhiraju Singh. At the age of 8, I was diagnosed with leprosy.

My father took me to the Nirmala Hospital, where I got the treatment but due to delayed treatment developed visible deformities in my hand and feet and never was able to return to my native place.

At that time I was too young to understand that what happened to me, but today I know it was the stigma and discrimination due to which my parents left me and the Director of Nirma hospital admitted me to the boarding school. But due to deformities, demotivation and pain of losing my parents, I failed to complete my studies. Since then (1987), I started working in the rehabilitation training center for my survival. Today, I am 42 year old living with my wife in the leprosy colony, who is also a leprosy affected with visible deformity in feet.

We both used to work in the rehabilitation center and were able to earn between 1500 to 2000 per person subject to availability of work. As we do not have children, therefore this small amount we found sufficient for survival.

Occasionally, people also come to the colony to distribute some food items and other colony people are into begging for their survival. But myself and my wife never went out begging and trying to live our lives with dignity.

But the Covid-19 took away from us the limited source of income which we use to earn due to lockdown. We were jobless since the lockdown started and even after lockdown the rehabilitation center doesn’t have much work and income to provide.

We never thought that there may be a day when we may have to beg for survival. But fortunately, we have received dry ration support and motivation from our own organisation ‘ATMA SWABHIMAN’ members.

More recently, we received the motivation and encouragement to start the livelihood activity. Initially, myself and my wife both were hesitant due to deformities as we never did any work other than working in the rehabilitation center.

Finally, we together decided to start a vegetable selling business for which Atma Swabhiman assured to provide the financial assistance. We received INR 5, 000 to start the business. Early in the morning we go to the wholesale market and then my wife used to sell vegetables from morning 8 to 12 on the road side.

I only support my wife but cannot directly sell due to my visible deformities. There is a lot of stigma and discrimination attached to the leprosy in our area. If people come to know that we are leprosy affected then no one will buy from us.

Fortunately, as of now we are doing well and have been able to earn an average profit of upto 90 rupees per day. We have recently started and have limited experience but have hope and confidence that will earn good money in near future.

My wife and I am now use to discuss how we can scale this business and also thought of having one fixed place and shop for selling vegetables.

We never thought of having our own business and knocked many doors during Covid-19 period but grateful for this support and motivation from our own ATMA SWABHIMAN organisation team members.