SANKAT MOCAN AND BHADHOI: LEPROSY COLONIES IN BENARES
Sankat Mocan is a leprosy colony that was founded in Benares about thirty years ago. It is a walled-off enclave consisting of 30 small housing units, which often accommodate families of up to 10 people. The members of the community live a modest and poor life. Most of them spend their days begging on the street. Those who do not have any visible leprosy symptoms try to make some money by collecting garbage, driving Rickshaw, delivering newspapers, or any other unqualified work. Still, the colony members live in dignity, which shows clearly in the cleanliness of the place; yet, they do lack education and job opportunities.
Bhadohi is located about 45 km from Benares literally in the middle of nowhere. The leprosy colony counts about 100-150 people who – before Back to Life – have never received any outside support at all. The make-shift houses are mainly built from clay, people are very poor and hardly have any access to medical and education services.
Our support to the leprosy colonies
At regular intervals our medical team visited the two leprosy colonies and did check-ups on the leprosy patients and their relatives. In Sankat Mocan, a treatment room was available, in which medication could be stored. The routine medical service notably improved the situation of the leprosy patients.
With the expansion of the Back to Life Children's Home in 2007, we were also able to welcome children and grandchildren of our former leprosy patients from Sankat Mocan and Bhadhoi. A total of 25 girls and 23 boys moved into our facilities at that time. As part of the fight against the disease and the stigma associated with it, we provided them the opportunity to be educated and become a fully accepted member of society.
Since 2010, we have been carrying out extensive relief efforts in the leprosy colony Bahdohi to strengthen the community of leprosy patients, their families, and children. For the children, we set-up a non-formal education centre. Regular community meetings identified the most important issues, referred individuals and families to the respective government services, and assisted them hands-on to struggle through any necessary administrative procedures.