Impact Stories

“Why Me?” – an inspirational story of a 16 yrs. old warrior girl

Credit: AIFO India

Bhavna Rajeswari:

Sixteen is an onset of the age stair where accepting societal realities become more challenging than ever. A time in a teen’s life when the balance between childhood and adulthood is on the verge of breakage. When many lose hope at experiencing the smallest of problems, this story is about an aspirant 16-year-old girl named Bhavana from the rural parts of Vishakhapatnam. Eldest amongst her siblings in a family of 4, Bhavana Rajeswari is a resident of Resapupalem Village.

She is the apple of her father’s eyes, who works as a security guard, and her mother is a homemaker. COVID has struck the rural Indian families hardest, and such is the case with Bhavana and her family. Adding to adversity two years ago, she complained about sensationless palms in her right hand with swollen areas. Upon consultation at a local hospital’s dermatology department, she has been diagnosed with Multi Bacillary Type (MB) leprosy. It is a rare condition in which peripheral nerves are thickened and affect other organs like the eyes, nose, and bones.

In response, the panel of doctors put her on Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT), a proven cure to the ailment. Unfortunately, during her treatment, Bhavana developed clawings (a type of deformity where a person’s hands lose their normal posture and begin rounding) in her right hand’s little and ring fingers. Witnessing the misery and worries in their daughter’s eyes, Bhavana’s parents consulted our partner hospital Rural India Self Development Trust (RISDT), responding to the advice of health staff from KGH.

The visit to RISDT hospital came as a turnaround for Bhavana and her family; the 16 years old aspiring youth, still unaware of her suffering relating to leprosy, was equally shocked and questioned her existence. When informed by RISDT staffers that she had leprosy, the girl burst into crying and said, “Why me?” and to her parents’ sorrow, they were scared about her future. Bhavana’s parents had witnessed the social stigma in our society for people affected by leprosy, the humiliation and suffering as the aftermath horrified them.

People need to know that leprosy is curable, and we need to welcome people affected by ut with open arms. In India, people still suffer due to their unawareness of the subject. We must help our fellow humans and heal the disease. The mental situation of Bhavana and her parents, living in fear of being unwanted in society, is unimaginable to us.

Bhavana and her parents were counseled by the staffers of RISDT before proceeding with the reconstructive surgery (RCS). Bhavana is currently waiting for her final surgery to be complete on one of the surgery camp dates at RISDT. She was consoled well, is confident of being cured, and is determined to defeat the disease. Bhavana’s parents also sigh with relief, but their faces still project the fear of a societal jinx relating to leprosy. We need to stand up and educate people to change their beliefs and provide and create a better world for people affected by leprosy. It’s not a sin. It is just a disease that is curable.

We extend our hands to the service of humanity and urge you to join us in this mission of bringing smiles and making the world a better place to live with equality for all.

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