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My name is Sarothi Devi! I have been unlucky all my life and still waiting for the good days in my life.

I was born around the 1980s, lost my parents at a very early age and developed leprosy symptoms and disability at the age of 9. I use to cry and cry after scoldings from my brothers wife and was to young to determine what it was - may be discrimination and stigma. Which finally forced me to leave my brothers house at such a young age of 12 with no future and life.

I wandered here and there, sleeping in farm fields and forests with many nights without food and with tears in my eyes. Finally I reached Kumardubi railway station and found some people sitting on the floor with wounds similar to mine. I accompanied them and they admitted me to the BMP leprosy hospital and rehabilitation center, Dhanbad, Jharkhand.

I received treatment and care and finally cured from leprosy but left with disabilities. I spent a few years in the rehabilitation centre.Hospital staff arranged my marriage with another leprosy affected person. At that time, I was hardly 15 year old.

Since then I have been living in Bankati leprosy colony, Jhariya, Dhanbad and blessed with three children's one boy and two girls.

I am not ashamed of mentioning that myself and my husband left with no option surviving through income from begging. Our deformities helped us in securing income from begging and that we were using for children's education and our survival.

And so the last 20 years passed with day to day struggle for survival and once again life took one more wrong turn in a way through Covid-19 Pandemic. Like usual days in February 2020 my husband went out to earn income from begging. God knows what happened to him but as of today 1st march 2021 he did not return. Whether dead or alive, safe or unsafe - do not know. Once again I am left alone with my three children with vulnerability and uncertainty.

Soon after losing my husband, Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown made the lives of me and my children miserable. During the Covid-19 period there were days and nights again when there was no food to eat and it was arduous to see the condition of my children. Not once but many times I thought of dying but together with my children we struggled for survival.

I am thankful to people affected by leprosy, who always motivated and tried to support in as many ways as possible.

Our Atma Swabhiman volunteers tried to support me regularly and exceptionally. I have received dry ration support for 5 times during the pandemic and more recently helped my daughter in paying the school dues.

Even though the support is significant but not sufficient. For survival, In December 2020 my son left with some contractors to work as labour in Chennai, Tamilnadu to support family. And more recently, I also started again to go out begging and do coal mining to earn some income.

I have no regrets over my life and also slowly coming out from the grief with uncertainty about my husband. But I request and wish for education and a good life for my children.

I am and will always remain thankful for my own people affected by leprosy!