2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the work of Nepal Leprosy Trust in Nepal. These 40 years have seen NLT’s work grow from a few leather goods and candles made by people affected by leprosy, to projects that have supported thousands of poor, disabled, and marginalized people. Many of these have received medical relief for their leprosy, sheltered employment, and wide ranging community development activity. The main project, Lalgadh Leprosy Services Centre, at the village of Lalgadh, is now one of the busiest leprosy centres in the world, with more new cases than any other centre, anywhere. For more than ten years, the Community Programme has been hard at work changing the minds and hearts of people in the villages around Lalgadh. As a result, many people disabled by leprosy can live free and fulfilling lives again, without the horror of rejection and stigmatization defining their existence as it used to.
The Centre at Lalgadh itself, sees thousands of leprosy patients every year, many of them in desperate need, and provides all their care free of charge. On top of those, many thousands of other people come for help with all kinds of medical conditions, and Lalgadh is now very famous in southern Nepal and northern India. One of its most appreciated characteristics in local people’s minds – even if they do not like Christianity – is that Lalgadh helps poor people, without prejudice. They also admire its staff who are hard working and faithful in getting out to difficult places to meet the needs of their patients. The work there is still growing and the future looks just as challenging and full as it ever has been. In the 19 years of Lalgadh’s work, it has treated nearly 27,000 individual people with leprosy, and several hundred thousand others with all kinds of medical and other problems. This is an amazing achievement.
At Kathmandu, the other main project of Nepal Leprosy Trust is Himalayan Leather Handicrafts, which is now a major and respected partner in the Fair Trade Group Nepal, and produces a wide range of good quality leather products, which are exported around the world. Many of the staff at Himalayan Leather, and those connected with the batik and felt production, have come to be at Nepal Leprosy Trust because of extreme poverty or disablement. The work at NLT has enabled them to regain their dignity and independence as a result. Along with this work, NLT continues to sponsor more than 60 children from very poor families so that they can have an education, and also looks after a number of elderly people who have little or no support otherwise.
All this work has been possible because of the faithful support, in prayer and giving, of many individuals, and some wonderful organizations. The team in Nepal Leprosy Trust – both in Nepal, and in the UK and Ireland – is immensely grateful for this support and encouragement which has allowed NLT to achieve so much.